Which zoos in NE USA/Canada offer animal encounters?
June 24, 2013 1:37 PM   Subscribe

I am looking for a zoo which offers a "behind the scenes" encounter with monkeys, ideally in North East USA/Canada.

In Australia, many zoos offer special animal encounters which enable you to pay extra and see "behind the scenes" for some of the animals at the zoo. Depending on the animal, you can feed the animal, learn more about their care from the animal handler, and sometimes even interact with the animal.
eg http://www.nationalzoo.com.au/new_animal_encounters.htm

Are there any zoos in North Eastern USA/Canada which offer a similar experience, particularly with a monkey exhibit?

I have seen this old question
and those answers, combined with my experiences in Australia, suggest that maybe zoos in the US are more strict about these kind of encounters?
posted by unlaced to Pets & Animals (10 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: I just visited the Philadelphia zoo over the weekend, and they have these cool adopt kits in the gift store: check it out

You get a stuffed animal, certificate, fact sheet, photograph and instructions on scheduling a behind the scenes experience with a zookeeper and an animal. I think there is an option to adopt without the stuffed animal on the zoo's web-site.

This would be such a cool (but a bit expensive at $165) present! The price does seem reasonable given what you get and also what you give.
posted by cacao at 1:50 PM on June 24, 2013 [1 favorite]

Best answer: The Duke Lemur Center in Durham, NC offers "Walking With Lemurs" tours. I do not believe you will be able to physically interact with the animals, though.

I know lemurs are not monkeys and NC is not the northeast, but I hope I'm not too far off..
posted by Rock Steady at 1:56 PM on June 24, 2013 [1 favorite]

They're not exactly monkeys, but the Duke Lemur Center in Durham, NC, is on my list of places to visit.
posted by something something at 1:57 PM on June 24, 2013

Not quite monkeys and a little more south, but if you're interested in this kind of thing you might want to check out the Duke Lemur Center. It's in Durham, NC and is the "the world's largest sanctuary for rare and endangered prosimian primates." I don't think you actually get to touch the animals, but they do offer a variety of up-close and personal tours at a variety of price points. I've been on a short tour, myself, and really enjoyed it.

Uh, and Rock Steady and something something already beat me to it. :(
posted by lucy.jakobs at 1:58 PM on June 24, 2013

Best answer: Did anyone mention the Duke Lemur Center yet?

Also, Carolina Tiger Rescue is in the same general area.
posted by Stewriffic at 2:57 PM on June 24, 2013 [1 favorite]

What kind of monkeys are you talking about? I think you can pretty well guarentee that NO reputable public zoo will permit physical interaction with chimpanzees for instance (or any of the great apes), due to the liability and risks involved --- those animals are faster and stronger than you, and can injure or even kill you. And considering that recent horrific case with the privately-owned chimp was in Connecticut, I'd say it's even less likely that a New England-area facility would do so than, say, a zoo farther away.

Your best bet is going to be the smallest breeds, and private zoos or rescue facilities.
posted by easily confused at 3:26 PM on June 24, 2013

It's not monkeys (or lemurs) but Southwick's Zoo in Mendon, MA offers giraffe feeding. It tends to sell out fairly quickly, and I don't think it's offered every day, but we try to do it every time we go.
posted by neilbert at 5:28 PM on June 24, 2013

My sister had monkeys at her 10th? 12th? birthday party. This would have been outside of Boston, ~15 years ago. I was not at the party. I have only ever heard of the person who did the presentation referred to as "The Monkey Lady," though if you google that it gets you nowhere, so it may not have been her actual name. I assume she was affiliated with some kind of rescue or private zoo, because it's illegal to own a pet monkey in Massachusetts, and it would (as you've gathered) be really strange for a proper AZA-accredited zoo to let primates go to birthday parties.

Memail me if you want me to ask my stepmother who The Monkey Lady really was!
posted by mskyle at 6:02 PM on June 24, 2013

I'm not so sure about a behind the scenes bit, but Parc Safari in Quebec is a self drive safari adventure where you can feed monkeys by throwing food out of the car. The monkeys aren't afraid though and will climb all over and poop on the car.
posted by koolkat at 1:46 AM on June 25, 2013

Response by poster: Thank you everyone for the great answers - it looks like I should plan a trip to North Carolina sometime soon!

koolkat, just for reference, I have been in Parc Safari, however, when I went (2011) the monkeys were all in normal zoo type enclosures, they were not roaming free in the "safari" part.
posted by unlaced at 11:30 AM on June 25, 2013

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