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Henry Vilas Park Zoo

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This critique last updated:  Feb 2008

Visitor Reviews

This review submitted by Dave and Brett
October 2000

The Vilas Park Zoo is a small to medium sized zoo in a residential neighborhood in Madison.  Admission is free, parking is free (but often scarce).  In the past few years there have been dramatic improvements –a new primate house with outdoor animal yards, a small but delightful penguin exhibit with underwater viewing, and new large cat habitats –but there are still a number of antiquated or cramped cement and steel cages.  The black bear exhibit and seal pool are notably quite small, but the animals appear healthy.  They recently shipped both of their elephants to large elephant sanctuaries, due to public concerns over the
small pen.

They have primarily standard zoo animal species — zebras, alpacas, camels, giraffes, several wild goats and antelope, polar bears, flamingos, lions, tigers, chimpanzees, lemurs, and a few surprises like capybaras.  There is also a nice reptile house.   The childrens zoo has the usual assortment of small mammals and birds (including the official University of Wisconsin mascot “Bucky Badger”), and a yard for feeding and petting goats, donkeys and zebu.

The surrounding park has areas for picnics and barbecues, a small beach for swimming, and large fields for frisbee or baseball.  It's a great place for family outings


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