If you are thinking of proposing to your love in a zoo and you want an enhanced experience for her, this page outlines my suggestions for how to make the most of what many zoos offer. Keep in mind that most zoos have an event planner or staff that you can talk to, so that is always going to be your first call if you want to plan this creative proposal idea. If for some reason they do not have an event planner, then you can always fall back on some of these programs to get your foot in the door and make a special day out of it.
First of all you should make sure that you are sure the zoo you are going to propose in is going to be open when you are planning on proposing. Many zoos in northern states have limited hours or even close in the winter months. You can easily see this on the homepage as well as where they post their hours. One potentially positive note about zoos that close for the winter is that you can ask to be the first ones to enter the zoo for the season. Negotiating a first in personal tour would be the perfect way to make her feel special.
If that is not an option or the zoo you are planning on visiting is open year round, then don’t be discouraged. There are plenty of other ways you can go. Before looking at the public programs they offer, I would call them up and have a conversation with their event planner about your idea. If she has a favorite animal, ask them if you can have a behind the scenes proposal using this animal. This may not be possible if her favorite animal is a polar bear or some other very dangerous creature, but you never know what options they might have for you until you ask. Many zoos have behind the scenes programs available to the public (for an additional charge) already made. While they may not be the exact plan you want, what it tells me is that they are able to work with you to make your proposal something more special than simply getting down on your knee in front of the penguin exhibit.
Another pretty common program in many of the zoos I looked at was the zoo overnight. These are generally reserved for groups like Scouts or schools, but if you guys are night owls and you want to share the night with friends, or even try to reserve the whole night for yourself (probably expensive), then this can be something for you as well. Hardly anyone ever gets to see a zoo after dark, much less spend the night in one. Many of them even add to the experience by having breakfast close to some of the animals. Check out the San Diego Zoo for what they offer for early morning programs. On that note, if overnight is not your thing, and you both are early birds, maybe the morning programs are for you.
If you are going to try something traditional, you can always reserve certain pavilions throughout the zoo for private parties, whether they are corporate, birthday, etc. This would be a good way to disguise your proposal and involve lots of family and friends. You could reserve a party and let your friends set it up for you while you are on a “date” with your girlfriend. You could pretend to be starving just as you begin to approach the “Desert Oasis” or whatever place you reserved. Let her walk in first and as she figures it out and turns back to say something, you can be down on one knee. Maybe if the zoo was super cool, they could have keepers in the area with monkeys or something fun. That is risky though. Risking her saying no is one thing, but having her say no and then having a monkey throw poop at you is the mother of all bad days.
If programs are limited or you just want to do something extra special for your lady, then maybe you can look into animal adoptions. Almost all of the zoos I looked at had some sort of animal adoption program. The way it works is, you adopt one of the animals in the zoo. Depending on how much you decide to pay for the adoption (no, you don’t get to keep it), there are varying levels of reward. See the chart for an example of one zoos tiers for their adoption program. As you can see, at the highest level, you get a special tour with zoo keeper staff. Can you say awesome proposal? I can. Something else to note here is that she will get all the other cool things that come with it. That stuffed animal may be more important to her than the Simba doll she had when she was younger.
While I am thinking about it, before you approach the zoo about working with you on your creative proposal idea, you may want to become a member of the zoo. It may not help you, but what can it hurt? I would say that they are going to be more apt to work with someone who is a member. Just as with the adoption program, there are levels to being a member at most zoos. The benefits are so great at the Birmingham Zoo, I could not put the chart up on the screen, but it is linked here for you to check out. Make sure to keep reading when you get past the graphic, there is far more than just what you see there. They offer discounts at the gift shop, unlimited access to the zoo all year, etc. This actually may be the best way to go about getting started with your zoo marriage proposal idea.
In the list of zoos below, I went through and looked at their websites to see if they offered any programs that you can use for your proposal idea. They are organized in order by state alphabetically. There are other zoos out there that are not on this list, but I simply did not have time to look at them all. Chances are you will know what zoo you want to use for your proposal and if it is not on this list, I am sure you can find it. Also note, with one exception, I also really only looked at places that were labeled as zoos. There are countless wildlife parks, aquariums, aviaries, etc that you can also find to propose in. Zoos are going to be generally easier to work with because they are staffed to handle these types of requests.
Alabama Gulf Coast Zoo – Adopt some cool animals: Kangaroos, Lemurs, Reptiles, Tigers (when available)
Birmingham Zoo – All types of animals available to adopt. For $500, not only do you adopt the animal, but you also get a special tour. They also rent out their facilities for rehearsal dinners, etc.
Montgomery Zoo – I could not find anything specific here, but there is a contact name at the bottom of the page.
Alaska Zoo – They have several special encounters packages you can choose from.
The Phoenix Zoo – I could not find any specific information about private tours other than the adopt an animal feature. I think doing this is a cool way to get more bang for your buck, but can be expensive.
Little Rock Zoo – Not much to be found for special tours, but the linked page should get you to some contact information.
Fresno Chaffee Zoo – In addition to animal adoptions, they have a great wedding section. I am certain they would find a way to make your day special.
Los Angeles Zoo – Surprisingly I could not find anything about special programs on the site outside of the adoption program. But I am sure they have a friendly staff that would work with you.
Oakland Zoo – I found the standard zoo information here. You can navigate to the adoption or contact page if you like, but I linked you to a cool page with picnic spots and even a filming and photography section for added fun.
Sacramento Zoo – Some cool stuff here. They have wedding packages so you know they will work with you on your proposal. Check out the linked page for several cool ideas.
San Diego Zoo – I am just linking to the homepage here since this is the mack daddy of all zoos. With programs like breakfast with koalas and early mornings with pandas, you know they are going to be able to hook you up.
Santa Ana Zoo – There were no obvious signs that there are any specific programs that you could use, but if your lady loves this zoo, just reach out to them. You can most likely talk them into helping you out.
Santa Barbara Zoo – The Santa Barbara Zoo has several backstage passes and keeper for a day programs. As it relates to many other zoos, their pricing is not too bad.
San Francisco Zoo – This page did not have any stand out programs you can use specifically for your proposal. They do have an adoption program, but if I were you, I would call and ask them to work with you before you go that route.
Denver Zoo – The Denver Zoo seems like they are very willing to work with people on any type of events; from weddings to corporate events. I bet they are a great place to propose to your lady.
Pueblo Zoo – I could not find anything in particular on this page, but as will all things, a little negotiation can go a long way. Zoos love press, and maybe this can help them get some.
Beardsley Zoo – Nothing on the site screams they have programs specifically for individuals. They do hold parties there and will most likely be willing to help you out with your proposal. The first step is calling them.
Brandywine Zoo – The Delaware Sate Parks Brandywine Zoo could be a nice place to propose to have your marriage proposal. I have linked to the page that shows the animals they have. Make sure the one your lady loves is on it.
Brevard Zoo – At first glance I could not find any specific programs you can use to propose here, so I have linked to the home page. Just find your way to the contacts and reach out to them.
Central Florida Zoo – While I do not see anything right off hand on this page, the zoo certainly gives the impression they are all about getting the public involved. Sounds like a great place to propose to me.
Jacksonville Zoo – The Jacksonville zoo page does not have as much about the possibility of a proposal on their grounds, but they do have many public programs. You can do it. Just call them.
Lowry Park Zoo – This zoo looks like they have all types of interactive experiences. It was rated as the #1 zoo for kids. Any place that friendly must be willing to work with you for your special day.
Miami Zoo – The Miami Zoo has several types of programs for its visitors. I linked to something that could be creative and fun for you. If you don’t like that one, simply peek around and you will find all kinds of good stuff.
Palm Beach Zoo – Another zoo with many types of programs for visitors. I linked to the party page, you can read up on some of the things they offer and then find the contact info to reach out from there.
North Georgia Zoo – This zoo has several types of programs for the public. From night stays to zoo keeper experiences, there is a good chance you can get them to work with you on your proposal.
Zoo Atlanta – Here is another zoo with Pandas. That is not to say you are going to get to spend time with those animals in particular, but it is worth a try.
Honolulu Zoo – If you are going to propose in Hawaii and you choose a zoo as your location, it is most likely going to be a big surprise given all the other romantic places there are there, but if animals are her thing, then go for it.
The Idaho Falls Zoo – Make sure this one is open when you want to propose. It is not open to the public all year long.
Zoo Boise – The Boise Zoo has some cool animals. Their Red Pandas have had two successful litters of cubs and are thriving. The zoo has great programs including breakfast with lions. Check them out.
Brookfield Zoo – Just 14 miles outside of downtown Chicago, the Brookfield Zoo has all kinds of fun programs for the public. This is a great place for a marriage proposal.
Lincoln Park Zoo – There are all kinds of animals in the Lincoln Park Zoo for you to try and work a marriage proposal with. Nestled in the heart of the city, I can’t imagine that you would have a hard time working something out.
Miller Park Zoo – Illinois zoos seem to really like to offer all types of fun activities for guests. The Miller Park Zoo is no different. They seem like a great place for a proposal.
Indianapolis Zoo – The zoo in Indy is a pretty sweet place. While the site does not detail all the types of programs available, they do have a contact number to call if you would like to plan an event.
Mesker Park Zoo – The Mesker Park Zoo has many types of animals and they also offer several event programs for guests of the zoo.
Potawatomi Zoo – There are many animals at this zoo that a lady would love to see and have an engagement planned around.
Blank Park Zoo – The Blank Park Zoo does not have a great deal of programs on the site that I could see right away, but I am sure you can work with them on your proposal plan if this is the zoo you would like to use.
Sedgwick County Zoo – The site for the Sedgwick County Zoo has a few events for the public that they advertise.
Sunset Zoo – The Sunset Zoo has many programs for the public that you can probably use for your marriage proposal.
Tanganyika Wildlife Park – While not labeled a “zoo”, they do offer many resources for you to pull off your creative proposal idea. In addition, they also specialize in endangered animals.
The Topeka Zoo – Not only does the Topeka Zoo offer several public programs, they also have a cool geocaching challenge. This is a great way to combine two creative proposal ideas in one. Check out our geocahe post here.
Louisville Zoo – The Louisville Zoo offers behind the scenes program for you to use for your creative proposal idea. There are other programs available for you as well. Give them a call.
Alexandria Zoo – In a state like Louisiana, you can expect many types of ways to propose, and the Alexandria Zoo provides many of them.
Zoosiana – I could not find too much on the site that jumped out at me, but I am sure you can call them and arrange something.
Dew Haven Animal Kingdom – Another Zoo that closes for the season when the weather is super cold so make sure to get in touch with them in plenty of time.
Catoctin Zoo – They offer different types of programs and even some for weddings. I bet they will be willing to work with you for your proposal.
Maryland Zoo – You can rent the whole zoo after hours if you want. I bet you could really make a special proposal if you have the whole joint to yourself.
Salisbury Zoo – I could not find too many programs at first glance, but like most things, I am certain you can find a way to make your proposal here if you try hard enough.
Franklin Park Zoo – The Franklin Park Zoo site has several programs that you may be able to use for your proposal. Even if you don’t choose one of their programs, I bet they can accommodate you in some way.
Southwick Zoo – This one has much potential, but make sure you plan ahead, as they are another zoo that closes seasonally.
Binder Park Zoo – Yet another zoo that closes seasonally, so make sure to plan in plenty of time.
Detroit Zoo – One of the easiest sites to find programs and events, you should have no problem getting them to work with you on your zoo proposal idea.
Potter Park Zoo – They may not have the most diverse group of animals, but the site looks friendly, and that is always a good sign.
Minnesota Zoo – Open all seasons, you can use this zoo anytime you need it. They have several programs available to the public so planning your proposal there should be easy.
Lake Superior Zoo – This gem on the north land has great programs already available for you to look and looks friendly and open to working with you.
Como Park Zoo – Just looking at the scrolling images on the homepage makes this zoo look perfect for a marriage proposal for any lady who loves to be surrounded by animals, beauty, or both. I highly recommend using a photographer to capture the day.
Hattiesburg Zoo – There were no immediate signs of a great deal of programs for the public here, but the zoo looks nice, so by all means, if you want to try a proposal here you should go for it.
Jackson Zoo – The Jackson Zoo has some programs for the public, including facility rentals. I have linked to the page that give the contact information for their special events manager.
Dickerson Park Zoo – No obvious signs of open programs, but there are several of the usual animal adoptions and other things you can do to get your proposal going.
Kansas City Zoo – I have linked to the page on the site that shows several ways you can host an event at the zoo. I bet a marriage proposal can be one of them.
Saint Louis Zoo – There are many behind the scenes tours available at this zoo. Many of the animals available for these tours are ones that ladies would like to help you propose.
Zoo Montana – The Montana Zoo has some good stuff available for you to use for your marriage proposal and even the wedding if you want.
Omaha’s Zoo – Between the Zoo and the Aquarium, there are several options for you to propose here. Even if you don’t go the behind the scenes route, there are many beautiful places for you to do the deed.
Riverside Zoo – The Riverside Zoo homepage says it is for you. I bet they mean it and you can work with them to make the proposal of her dreams.
Bergen County Zoo – These folks need a site upgrade. Hopefully that just means that they spend all their time making the zoo a great place to visit.
Turtle Back Zoo – The Turtle Back Zoo looks to have some programs for you to use for your marriage proposal.
Albuquerque Zoo – Bugs Bunny may always take a wrong turn here, but if you will propose at this zoo, it will be the best turn in your life.
Binghamton Zoo – The Zoo at Ross Park is the 5th oldest zoo in the country. There are not many better places I can think of to propose. Just make sure to plan accordingly, it is a seasonal zoo.
Buffalo Zoo – I could not find a whole lot of programs for the public besides the usual suspects, but they do have adoption programs and such.
Bronx Zoo – There are so many options in the New York zoo system to choose from, you will need to take some time to look around and see what you will want to try and do.
Central Park Zoo – The Central Park Zoo has loads of programs, none are specific to weddings or proposals, but a place as pretty as Central Park is worth trying to negotiate a proposal in.
Queens Zoo – The Queens Zoo has similar programs as the Central Park and Bronx Zoos.
Seneca Park Zoo – New York has no shortage of zoos to choose from. Here is another you can try to use for your proposal.
Staten Island Zoo – While not the largest zoo in New York, I am sure you can get your proposal dreams taken care of here.
Utica Zoo – The Utica Zoo has over 200 animals and is well taken care of. You can do all sorts of things here, and your proposal can be one of them.
North Carolina Zoo – They have a new site that desperately wants to know your location. Make sure to say yes or no the first time or else it keeps asking. Besides that, you can certainly make a great proposal here
Dakota Zoo – The Dakota Zoo has several solid programs for the public. There is a good chance you can use them for your marriage proposal if you want.
Red River Zoo – This zoo has winter hours so be careful. I did not see too many programs, but this zoo seems friendly.
Akron Zoo – The Akron Zoo has lots of programs open to the public. They look easy to work with. I bet this is a good one to propose in.
Cincinnati Zoo – I enjoy this zoo. It looks from the site that you should have no problem planning a proposal here.
Cleveland Metropark Zoo – Behind the scenes tours are just a start here for you to be able to plan your proposal here.
Columbus Zoo – Not only is it a zoo, but there is also an aquarium on site. Double your pleasure, double your fun.
Toledo Zoo – The Toledo Zoo has programs that you can use for your proposal day.
Oklahoma City Zoo – A butterfly garden? How awesome is that? Go for it.
Tulsa Zoo – The Tulsa Zoo looks like it is a fun place to visit. Their site is very friendly and I would be happy to plan a marriage proposal there.
Oregon Zoo – The Oregon zoo has some limited hours seasonally, but that should not be a problem for you.
Erie Zoo – I could not find many programs right off hand, but don’t let that dissuade you if this is where you want to propose. Just give them a call.
Elmwood Park Zoo – There are all kinds of fun things going on at this zoo. I think it would be an exciting one to propose in.
Philadelphia Zoo – With tons of animals and really cool exhibits, this place would be awesome to propose in.
Pittsburgh Zoo – This is another zoo with an aquarium on the grounds. It seems like all the PA zoos are awesome. Maybe I am bias because I am from PA.
Roger Williams Park Zoo – The Roger Williams Park Zoo is nice and looks to be friendly. It looks like a great place for a marriage proposal.
River Banks Zoo and Garden – The River Banks Zoo has a botanical garden on the grounds. I love animals and flowers and think you can have the best of both worlds by proposing here.
The Greenville Zoo – The Greenville Zoo has behind the scenes tours so I am sure they would work with you on your proposal idea.
Bramble Park Zoo – Right off hand I could only find where they have animal adoptions as a way to get your foot in the door for a romantic proposal at the zoo.
Great Plains Zoo – In addition to current animals, this zoo has realistic dinosaurs as well. There are also plenty of programs for visitors.
Knoxville Zoo – Say What? Star Wars character day is March 21st at the zoo? Come on, how can you resist that?
Memphis Zoo – The Memphis Zoo has the coolest zoo website I visited in doing research for this. You should check it out.
Nashville Zoo – The Nashville Zoo has to be friendly. It is in the heart of country music after all.
Abilene Zoo – There is a section for special events so I bet you can get them to work with you on your marriage proposal.
Amarillo Zoo – The Amarillo Zoo looks to be friendly and inviting for its visitors.
Austin Zoo – With over 100 species of animals, you should be able to find an animal that your lady loves there.
Caldwell Zoo – Is it me or are there a billion zoos in Texas? And they are all nice ones. You have choices to make my friend.
Cameron Park Zoo – Waco is home to this very nice zoo. You can certainly plan a nice proposal here.
Dallas Zoo – If everything is bigger in Texas, then the Dallas Zoo is where the biggest proposals need to be. Own it.
El Paso Zoo – The El Paso Zoo has many programs for the public. You can even work with a zoo keeper.
Fort Worth Zoo – They clearly have several events on their homepage you can use to set up a proposal. Any place that advertises these programs up front is generally going to be easy to work with.
Houston Zoo – Another zoo with a great section for experiences. Should be an easy one for you to plan something good.
San Antonio Zoo – The San Antonio Zoo has a great site and looks like it is a super friendly place.
Texas Zoo – The Texas Zoo in Victoria looks to be a very nice place. I could not quickly find many programs, but there are plenty of places to donate, which tells me you will be able to get them to work with you.
Utah’s Hogle Zoo – It has a very interesting site to say the least. I could not find much in the way of public programs, but have confidence and work your magic.
Luray Zoo – The Luray Zoo has a few programs for the public. It looks like there is something you can use if you give it a shot.
Virginia Zoo – The Virginia Zoo has a very welcoming feel and is quite nice to navigate through. I bet it is a great place for your marriage proposal.
Metro Richmond Zoo – Ok, I have to admit, I totally sat here and watched the Cheetah Cam linked here for the last 5 minutes. They are my favorite animal.
Mill Mountain Zoo – They are not open all days in the winter so plan accordingly. Other than that, it looks like a great place to propose.
Cougar Mountain Zoo – They have one of the top tiger exhibits in the world so if that is your thing, you should go for it.
Woodland Park Zoo – You can feed a penguin here. Definitely a place you can plan a proposal.
Point Defiance Zoo – This Zoo also has an aquarium on site so you have more options here than at most places.
The National Zoo – Anything that is a part of the Smithsonian has to be a good place for any marriage proposal.
Good Zoo – There looks to be many awesome options for you to use for your proposal.
Hovatter’s Wildlife Zoo – They are another zoo that is closed n the winter so make sure you call ahead. It would be awesome if you could be the first one in for the season and have a private tour.
Henry Vilas Zoo – Looks like a quaint place to make your lady love you forever.
Lincoln Park Zoo – The Lincoln Park Zoo has some nice programs you should try to use for your marriage proposal.
Milwaukee Zoo – The site looks to have several types of things for the public. They look to be friendly and easy to work with.
Racine Zoo – Man, Wisconsin has a lot of zoos. The Racine Zoo is another good one for you to use.