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Get an inside look at animal care, meet some of your favorite animals and learn about the Zoo’s efforts to protect endangered species! Each tour is a private experience for your group. Check out the descriptions below to learn more about select opportunities.

Meet some of the tallest mammals in the world! Discover the distinctive characteristics of giraffes and learn about the care they receive at Riverbanks. Each guest will have the opportunity to get a giraffe’s eye view of the world and even feed one of our gentle giants a leafy lunch.

  • Private tour for up to 6 participants. Ages 8 and up only; participants under 18 must be accompanied by a Riverbanks Backstage Encounter ticket-holding adult. Facial coverings must be worn for the duration of the tour.
  • This Backstage opportunity is not ADA-accessible due to uneven terrain and will involve climbing a flight of stairs.

Grizzly Bear Backstage

Register for Backstage Encounter

Head behind the scenes for an im-paws-ibly fun afternoon. Meet our bears, Butch and Sundance, as the animal care staff demonstrate how they safely train these incredible animals. Help prepare an afternoon snack for the grizzlies out on their habitat and snap some photos of this unforgettable experience.

  • Private tour for up to 6 participants. Ages 8 and up only; participants under 18 must be accompanied by a Riverbanks Backstage Encounter ticket-holding adult. Facial coverings must be worn for the duration of the tour.
  • This Backstage opportunity is not ADA-accessible due to uneven terrain and a few stairs.

Join Riverbanks’ penguin colony for a chilly backstage encounter. Learn all about our different penguins before bundling up to head behind the scenes. Get a cool view of these flightless birds while our keepers feed them their midday snack.

  • Private tour for up to 6 participants. Ages 8 and up only; participants under 18 must be accompanied by a Riverbanks Backstage Encounter ticket-holding adult. Facial coverings must be worn for the duration of the tour.
  • This Backstage opportunity is not ADA-accessible due to uneven terrain and will involve climbing a flight of stairs.

Galapagos Tortoise Backstage

Register for Backstage Encounter

Meet some of the oldest and youngest Riverbanks residents! Walk out on to their habitats to say shello to each of these individuals and learn about their amazing history. Each guest will also have the opportunity to touch and feed these giant tortoises.

  • Private tour for up to 6 participants. Ages 8 and up only; participants under 18 must be accompanied by a Riverbanks Backstage Encounter ticket-holding adult. Facial coverings must be worn for the duration of the tour.
  • This Backstage opportunity is not ADA-accessible due to uneven terrain.

Experience Sea Lion Landing like never before – and maybe get your feet a little wet. See the inner workings of the habitat, help our keepers prepare the morning diet, and then join the animal care staff for a training demonstration. This memorable tour will definitely get your seal of approval.

  • Private tour for up to 6 participants. Ages 8 and up only; participants under 18 must be accompanied by a Riverbanks Backstage Encounter ticket-holding adult. Facial coverings must be worn for the duration of the tour.
  • This Backstage opportunity is not ADA-accessible due to uneven and slick terrain.

Come hang out with the pickiest eaters at Riverbanks! Learn all about the care and keeping of these magnificent marsupials, then step into their habitat and snap a rare photo with a koala! This experience has all the koalafications for a memorable afternoon.

  • Private tour for up to 6 participants. Ages 8 and up only; participants under 18 must be accompanied by a Riverbanks Backstage Encounter ticket-holding adult. Facial coverings must be worn for the duration of the tour.
  • This Backstage opportunity is not ADA-accessible due to uneven terrain.

Join our flock for an afternoon of fun! Learn all about the care and conservation of these fascinating birds, then head into their habitat to flamingle with the flock as they enjoy a messy midday meal.

  • Private tour for up to 6 participants. Ages 8 and up only; participants under 18 must be accompanied by a Riverbanks Backstage Encounter ticket-holding adult. Facial coverings must be worn for the duration of the tour.
  • This Backstage opportunity is not ADA-accessible due to uneven terrain and will involve sitting on a low stool.

Not quite ready for a long encounter or have a child who doesn’t quite make the age requirement for our other Backstage encounters? Check out these new bite-sized encounters! These programs last about 30 minutes and are suitable for guests ages 5 and up.

Radiated Rendezvous — Meet up with our radiated tortoises and get a turtle-rific photo with these stunning slow pokes.
Spectacular Snakes — Join some of our snakes for an exceptional experience as they climb through a jungle gym with no hands!
Artistic Animals — Watch as one of our ambassador animals paints a one-of-a-kind art piece for you to take home!
  • Private tour for up to 5 participants. Ages 8 and up only; participants under 18 must be accompanied by a Riverbanks Backstage Encounter ticket-holding adult. Facial coverings must be worn for the duration of the tour.
  • This Backstage opportunity may be ADA-accessible. Please contact the education department at 803.603.0803 for more details.

Registration Information

  • Preregistration is required for all Riverbanks Backstage experiences; visit Riverbanks’ e-ticket store to register.
  • Admission to Riverbanks Zoo and Garden is not included but is required.
  • Only guests ages 8 and up are permitted on any Riverbanks Backstage Experience.
  • All guests under 18 must be accompanied by an adult during the entire experience.
  • Closed-toe shoes and face coverings are a requirement for all experiences.
  • ADA accessibility is limited for many experiences. Please contact the education department at 803.602.0803 for more information.
  • Due to the unpredictability of the animals, Backstage experiences are subject to change or cancellation. Participants must abide by all staff instructions.

Cancellation and Refunds

  • Cancellation or date change requests must be received ten days in advance of the event to receive a refund of your registration. Requests must be received in writing at education@riverbanks.org. Registrations are non-refundable and non-transferable should the cancellation or need to change a date occur within ten days of the scheduled program. Times, prices, and tour components are subject to change.
  • In the rare event that Riverbanks Zoo and Garden must cancel the scheduled event, all deposits or money received will be reimbursed or an option to reschedule will be provided. Notification of cancellation will be provided as soon as possible.
  • Refunds and reschedules will not be provided for individuals who do not show up for the event.

Questions about Riverbanks Backstage?

Please call the Education Department at 803.602.0803 or email us.