Zoos are a great place to observe adorable animals, learn about different species, and wear homemade Tarzan costumes free of judgment. Let your hair down and monkey around with today's Groupon: for $17, you get a one-year family membership at Henry Vilas Zoo (a $35 value), located on Randall Avenue.
One of the country's only free zoos, Henry Vilas is getting ready to celebrate its 100th anniversary by embarking on the Zoo Century campaign, a $27 million, 10-year plan to help improve visitors' experience and renovate animals' habitats. The program includes a new state-of-the-art Arctic Passage for Mischka, the zoo's resident polar bear and Dostoevsky scholar. With this deal, you’ll get one year of family membership, which includes the following: a 10% discount on the zoo's gift shops and concessions stands; invitations to members-only events; a five-ride punch card for carousel and train rides; free or discounted admissions to other zoos and aquariums nationwide; a quarterly subscription to Zoo News; and discounts at participating local merchants.
Along with the parade of perks, members will still delight in communing with the zoo's cuddly, scaly, and feathered residents, as well as learning about naturalism and conservation. Spend a lazy Saturday taking 2.5 eager children to the zoo, ooh-ing and aww-ing over the new lion cub and listening to the a cappella REO Speedwagon covers sung by wide-eyed sugar gliders. Funds go toward increasing outreach and educational programs to teach kids about nature, as well as helping to feed and provide medical care for all the zoo's animals.
Henry Vilas Zoo
On June 30, 1904 Col. William and Anna Vilas donated a tract of land to become a public park and free recreational space in memory of their son, Henry, who died due to complications from diabetes at a young age. They added numerous improvements over the decade and in 1911, the Henry Vilas Zoo gained its first animal exhibits. Today, the zoo covers 30 acres and features a number of creatures from around the world, ranging from the vanishing chimpanzee and endangered red panda to locals such as the great horned owl and american alligator. The zoo also remains one of the few free AZA-accredited zoos across the country.
Leading up to and following the zoo's centennial, the ReZOOvenation project has expanded the visitor areas, replacing the entrance and gift shop and adding a tropical-rainforest aviary and big-cat complex. A variety of annual events are scheduled, including Halloween at the Zoo, with costumes and stops for sustainable palm-oil candy, and earth day, when children can plant trees to help lower the global temperature just enough for icicles to form. The zoo’s many conservation projects also engage the public in protecting the environment and its inhabitants by installing solar-energy panels, sponsoring trips to save endangered orangutans, and collecting old cell phones.