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Feed an elephant. Touch a tortoise. Help prepare a snack for the bears. Get an inside look at animal care, learn about the Zoo’s efforts to save endangered species, and find out how you can help! Choose from five interactive and educational one-hour encounters.

Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays.

Penguin

Join the Zoo’s penguin colony for a chilly backstage encounter. Get an up-close view of these flightless birds and learn how Riverbanks feeds and cares for them. Make sure to bring along a camera—there will be plenty of cool photo opportunities!

Saturday mornings year round.

$45 Riverbanks members and $60 general public.

Ages 8 and up only; admission not included in tour rate.

Please note: Behind-the-scenes area is not ADA accessible.

Register for Backstage Encounter

Grizzly Bear

See Riverbanks from an extraordinary perspective. Help the animal care staff prepare an afternoon snack for the grizzlies. Each guest will have the opportunity to feed a bear behind-the-scenes before watching them enjoy their hidden treats on exhibit. Don’t leave your camera at home—there will be many photo opportunities!

Sunday afternoons, seasonally.

$45 Riverbanks members and $60 general public.

Ages 8 and up only; admission not included in tour rate.

Register for Backstage Encounter

Elephant

Meet the Zoo’s largest residents and gain a bigger backstage perspective. Discover just how massive elephants are and learn about the care they receive at Riverbanks. Each guest will have the chance to feed an elephant as part of the animals’ morning training. Don’t forget your camera for some great photo opportunities!

Sunday mornings year round.

$45 Riverbanks members and $60 general public.

Ages 8 and up only; admission not included in tour rate.

Register for Backstage Encounter

Giant Tortoise

Meet the oldest Riverbanks residents face-to-face in the tortoise habitat. Each guest will have the opportunity to touch and handfeed the Zoo’s giant Galapagos tortoises. Make sure to bring along a camera to capture this memorable experience!

Friday afternoons, seasonally.

$45 Riverbanks members and $60 general public.

Ages 8 and up only; admission not included in tour rate.

Please note: Behind-the-scenes area is not ADA accessible.

Register for Backstage Encounter

Coming Soon

Experience Sea Lion Landing like never before—and maybe get your feet a little wet. See the inner workings of this state-of-the-art habitat, and then join the animal care staff on deck during our public training demonstration. Make sure to bring along a camera—there will be countless photo opportunities!

Saturday afternoons year round.

Please note: Portions of this behind-the-scenes area are not ADA accessible.

Registration Information

  • Preregistration is required for all Riverbanks Backstage experiences; visit the eTicket store to register. Experiences run approximately one hour and take place on most Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays.
  • Patron and Gold-level Members: Please call 803.602.0803 to redeem your two free Riverbanks Backstage passes and schedule your encounter.
  • Admission to Riverbanks Zoo and Garden is not included but is required.
  • Only guests ages 8 and up are permitted on Riverbanks Backstage experiences.
  • All guests under the age of 18 must be accompanied by a ticket holding adult.
  • Closed-toed shoes are a safety requirement on all backstage experiences.
  • Guests are encouraged to arrive at the designated area 10 minutes before scheduled Riverbanks Backstage experiences.
  • ADA accessible options are not always available within behind-the-scenes areas. Please call 803.602.0803 for information.
  • Due to the unpredictability of animals, backstage experiences are subject to change or cancellation. Participants must abide by staff instructions at all times.

Cancellation and Refunds

  • Guests who arrive late may miss certain components or may not be accommodated due to limited tour availability.
  • Times, prices, and tour components are subject to change.
  • Cancellations with less than 24-hours notice are nonrefundable.
  • Riverbanks Backstage experiences take place rain or shine. Refunds within 24 hours of the start time will only be given if the program needs to be canceled by Riverbanks Zoo and Garden. Tour guide will contact registered guests if cancellations occur.