Spend a wild night at Riverbanks! Overnights at the Zoo feature behind-the-scenes tours, games, and other exciting activities. Overnights and Night Howls are available year round, any day of the week.

Group Overnights (ages 5 and up)

Gather your class, troop, pack, youth group or neighborhood friends for a one-of-a-kind evening exploration. Groups will enjoy an educational program including animal encounters, keeper-led tours, snack, continental breakfast, games and free admission the following morning to explore the Zoo on their own. Each participant will also take home a Riverbanks souvenir cup for free.

Cost: $45 per person. *Discount of $40 per person available on select dates.

Capacity: Minimum 25 / Maximum 50.

Scheduled Dates and Times: Call for availability. 6:45pm–9:00am.

Group Overnights with Dinner Included (ages 5 and up)

No time to grab dinner before your overnight? Come a little early and enjoy all the benefits of an overnight with dinner set out for you in the newly renovated Tuskers restaurant. Each individual dinner includes 2 slices of pizza, a cookie and a drink.

Cost: $52 per person. *Discount of $47 per person available on select dates

Capacity: Minimum 25 / Maximum 50.

Scheduled Dates and Times: Call for availability. 6:15pm–9:00am.

Night Howls (ages 5 and up)

Looking for a nocturnal adventure without the sleepover? Night Howls is the perfect compromise for your pack! Meet education animals up close, take a look at some out-of-sight places with zookeepers and enjoy a light snack. Finally, discover what animals are sleeping and which ones are awake with a fascinating night hike.

Cost: $30 per person.

Capacity: Minimum 15 / Maximum 50.

Scheduled Dates and Times: Call for availability. 6:30–10:30pm.

Overnights for Small Troops and Packs (ages 5 and up)

Looking for an overnight experience for a small scout troop or pack that does not meet our minimum for traditional group overnights, then this new opportunity is just for you! Select nights will be offered for Girl Scout troops and separate nights for Boy Scout packs to come together and enjoy the Zoo’s night life. Like traditional overnights, scout groups will enjoy animal encounters, keeper-led tours, a snack, continental breakfast, games and free admission the next morning to explore the Zoo on their own. Each participant will also take home a Riverbanks souvenir cup for free.

NOTE: Overnight programs are not written to meet specific badge requirements. A minimum of 25 individual registered participants is required to conduct all small scout group overnight programs as scheduled.

Scheduled Dates and Times:

We currently do not have any events or programs scheduled. Please check back later.

Learn more about Scout Programs.

Family on Safari—Overnight (ages 5 and up)

Looking for a fun and exciting adventure for the whole family? Join us for Family on Safari themed events! On select nights, participants will enjoy dinner at the Zoo followed by an exciting program featuring animal encounters, behind-the-scenes tours, crafts and more! Settle down in our Discovery Center for the night, then wake up to a continental breakfast and a Zoo visit the following day!

NOTE FOR ALL FAMILY ON SAFARI PROGRAMS: Children may not be left unattended. Individuals must be accompanied by an adult. A minimum of 15 individual registered participants is required to conduct all Family on Safari programs as scheduled.

Scheduled Dates and Times:

July 2016

Saturday, July 30

Summer Fun
@ 6:00pm until 9:00am the next day (ages 5–adult ONLY)
Summer is in full swing and it’s hot! Join us and discover what animals do to cope with those steamy summer days as we celebrate summer fun. Admission for the park on the day following the event is included in ticket price. Dinner, snack and breakfast are also included.
Cost: $45 per person

Boo at the Zoo Overnight (ages 5 and up)

Put on your costumes and flock to the Zoo for a spook-tacular group overnight! Meet creepy crawly animal friends, take two escorted behind-the-scenes tours, grab a light snack and spend an hour enjoying Boo at the Zoo (fee-based rides and attractions not included). For those who brave the overnight adventure, a continental breakfast and creepy creature encounter will await the next morning before your “mob” heads out to explore the Zoo for the day.

Cost: $50 per person.

Capacity: Minimum 25 / Maximum 50.

Scheduled Dates and Times: Call for available dates.

Lights Before Christmas Overnight (ages 5 and up)

Celebrate the season with a new holiday tradition, a group sleepover at the Zoo! Meet animal friends up-close and learn about their special winter adaptations. Take a peek behind-the-scenes and be dazzled by the holiday lights. The next morning, wake up to the call of the siamangs, enjoy a light breakfast, meet an animal friend, and then enjoy the rest of the day exploring the Zoo.

Cost: $50 per person.

Capacity: Minimum 25 / Maximum 50.

Scheduled Dates and Times: Call for available dates.

Important Registration Information

  • Dates are limited, so register early.
  • If the Zoo cancels an event due to weather, overnights will be rescheduled or the deposit refunded.
  • Fill out the Overnight Information Inquiry Form to register.

View our Frequently Asked Questions and Answers for more information including a pack list, cancellations, etc.

What does an Overnight program include?

View/download an Overnight schedule or the Night Howls schedule. (PDFs)

What program topics are available?

Wildlife in Winter (for grades 1–6)

Surviving winter is no easy task. Join us as we uncover winter adaptations that local wildlife use to overcoming the challenges of cold weather and little food. Participants will also take away some fun ideas on how to reuse household items and help animals in their own backyard.

Night Creatures (for grades 1–6)

Nocturnal animals are not creepy, just misunderstood creatures with incredible adaptations to help them survive after dark. Join the fun as we dispel some common myths about animals that prefer night to day!

Habitats around the World (for grades 2–4)

From tropical rainforests to the freezing arctic tundra, the earth is covered in different habitats! Come explore the characteristics that make each of these places unique and learn how organisms make these habitats their homes.

Amazing Adaptations (for grades 3–6)

The key to winning the game of survival is adaptations. Discover the variety of body structures and behaviors that animals use for defense, movement, growth and to obtain food.

Web of Life (for grades 3–6)

Life is an intricate web of eat or be eaten! Groups will build their own South Carolina ecosystem food web, explore organisms’ roles in nature and learn to identify animal roles in ecosystems by studying skulls.

Animals Have Class (for grades 4–6)

Clarifying classification: putting method to the madness of taxonomy! Students will discover how scientists group organisms, learn the characteristics of the 5 main vertebrate classes and use dichotomous keys to identify the Zoo’s education animals’ scientific and common names.

Conserving Wildlife (for grades 5–8)

Each one of us can be an animal champion! Students will become familiar with the acronym HIPPO to better understand how human activity affects wildlife as well as the Zoo’s role in conservation and how they can individually help conserve species.

Wild Careers (for grades 9–12)

Did you know Accountants, Teachers, Chefs, Event Coordinators, Horticulturists and Animal Keepers all work at Riverbanks Zoo and Garden? Discover how these careers are all important to the Zoo’s mission and what it takes to be a part of the Riverbanks team.

Zooversity and Genetics (for grades 7–12)

Variety is the spice of life and the key to conserving wildlife. Students will learn the value of genetic diversity, ways it can be lost in nature and explore the challenges zoos face with captive breeding programs. Groups will also participate in a simulated Species Survival Plan (SSP) meeting where they recommend next year’s breeding pairs for a zoo animal.

Do boys and girls sleep in separate areas?

Yes, we will accommodate any request for separate sleeping quarters.

Where do we sleep? Are showers available?

Participants sleep on the floor in our 3-D auditorium or education classrooms. Air mattresses are allowed and recommended for adults only due to space limitations. Sleeping mats are available for participants if desired. Bathrooms are located within the education complex; however, showers are NOT available.

What ages can attend Overnights and Night Howls?

All participants must be at least five years old. Younger siblings are not permitted.

Is dinner provided?

Overnights include a light snack in the evening and a continental breakfast with juice and coffee. Dinner is NOT included but can be added for an additional charge and the group must arrive by 6:15pm. Dinner will not be served to anyone arriving after 6:40pm. Food and drinks are not allowed in the Discovery Center theater or classrooms. Please do not bring additional food items unless someone in your group has special diet needs.

What would we need to bring with us to the program?

Please bring the following items:

  • signed Consent Form for all participants (PDF)
  • sleeping bag and pillow—Overnights only
  • toiletries (toothbrush, toothpaste, etc.)—Overnights only
  • sneakers or good walking shoes
  • water bottle
  • appropriate outer wear (i.e. rain coat, jacket, etc.)
  • flashlights (adults only)
  • cameras (please do NOT bring any other electronics)

Is there storage space for luggage/sleeping bags while the group visits the park following the overnight?

No; all groups will be escorted out of the Zoo at 8:45am to pack their vehicles/buses before being released into the park to enjoy their free day of admission. Please arrange for your transportation to meet you at Gate 8/Employee Entrance (right-hand parking lot after crossing the railroad tracks) at 8:45am promptly if they are not remaining at the Zoo overnight.

Can we buy souvenirs during the program?

While the gift shop will NOT be open during the program, we do have cool “I SURVIVED THE NIGHT AT RIVERBANKS ZOO” glow-in-the dark T-shirts for sale ($15 each). We also offer a specially designed Riverbanks logo patch for $4 each. You may purchase the shirts or the patches once you receive your confirmation packet.

How do we pay for the program?

  • The cost per participant (adults included) is $50 for event nights, $45 for regular nights, $40 for discount nights, or $30 for Night Howls.
  • Upon registering, each group will be charged a deposit fee ($150 for Overnights and $100 fee for Night Howls), which is due one month from the day that you schedule with us.
  • Last minute reservations will have a deposit due at the time of registration or no later than 3 weeks prior to the scheduled date.
  • All deposits are deducted from the final balance unless the group should cancel for any reason. Deposits are non-refundable and non-transferable should the group cancel or need to change a date within 3 weeks of the scheduled overnight.
  • Full payment is due upon arrival for all groups. Groups can pay by check during the overnight OR call during normal business hours Monday–Friday, 8:30am to 4:00pm to pay with credit card prior to the scheduled date. Credit cards will not be accepted during the Overnights and Night Howls.

Do you offer any discounts for Overnight groups?

Yes, but for regular group overnights only. To receive a $5 discount per person:

  • Register for a Sunday through Wednesday night (October – May) OR any day of the week (June – September).
  • Group coordinators will receive free admission to their overnight! (Limited to 1 Free Adult per overnight date. Groups of 25 or less are not eligible as all groups must pay for a minimum of 25 participants.)

What is the minimum and maximum amount of participants for each overnight program?

**Night Howls vary see above. The group minimum is 25 and the maximum is 50 total participants (adults included). All groups are required to pay for at least 25 participants even if the group has less than 25. Groups of 25 or less will not receive one free admission. If you arrive with more than 50, your Overnight program will be cancelled on arrival and your deposit will not be returned.

What if I have more than 50 participants wanting to attend the overnight?

Any Overnight group of more than 50 participants is considered a double overnight.

  • For Overnight groups desiring to bring over 50 participants, a $300 deposit will be charged. The additional deposit will be due a month from registering.
  • Group leaders must receive prior approval from the Coordinator of Overnights at least three weeks before the scheduled overnight date to bring more than 50 participants.
  • Should a double group bring less than 50 people without notifying the Coordinator of Overnights, in writing, three weeks in advance of the overnight, the full deposit of $300 will be lost and not deducted from the total balance.
  • We are unable to accommodate groups over 50 for all Event Overnights and Night Howls.

How do we sign up for Overnights?

All Overnights and Night Howls must be scheduled at least three weeks in advance of a desired date. Dates fill up quickly so register today! To sign up, please fill out the Overnight Information Inquiry Form or contact Education Services.

The Zoo is a non-smoking facility. Overnight instructors must remain with the group at all times and are not able to escort individuals outside the Zoo for smoking breaks during the overnight. We apologize for the inconvenience.

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