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The Ultimate LA Family Guide ™

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Review of America’s Teaching Zoo at Moorpark College

America's Teaching Zoo is located at the intersection of the 23 and 118 freeways. This zoo is unique because it is staffed by the current students at Moorpark College's exotic animal training program.  This program is a 2 year associates degree program.  In speaking with a student we found out that the program is quite selective with admission through lottery that can only take about 50 of 300 applicants. She also told us that upon completion of the program students apply for jobs at zoos around the country.

The address is 7075 Campus Rd. in Moorpark. The phone number is (805) 378-1441. The zoo is open only on the weekends from 11 am-5 pm. The cost for entrance is $8 for adults and $6 for children and seniors. There are live shows at 12 noon, 1, 2, and 3 pm and a carnivore feeding demonstration at 3:30 pm. If you want a price comparison of the two LA area zoos:

It costs $28 for a family of four to enter the America's Teaching Zoo and $62 at the LA Zoo.

The zoo was started by a professor at the college with one animal and other animals were slowly added. The site is in a beautiful location  at the top of a hill looking down on the college and the valley below. There is such a wide range of animals and many are well trained for the 4 daily shows. We went for a fun annual activity called Arctic Lights. There was snow brought in, art projects and in the creature feature area we were able to spend time with and pet these gorgeous arctic wolves who were super friendly like dogs.  At, under our written review of Moorpark zoo, you could see pictures of us with these animals.

This zoo is much smaller and more intimate than any zoo we have ever been to. Despite the size, the zoo has a wide breath of animals, programs and features that really make it stand out.

Just the fact that it is a teaching zoo and that the staff are all students is very encouraging for young visitors who aspire one day work with animals for their jobs.

All of the animal habitats we looked at were occupied and the animals were all quite active. We loved seeing the wide variety of monkeys, lions, birds including eagles and macaws, the hyena, the cerval, the lemurs and the owls. We watched one show and the trainers were quite knowledgeable about not just each animals' characteristics but also their individual personalities.

While the habitats of the zoo will likely remind you of a zoo of the past given that they are not that large and do not resemble the animals' natural habitats, the interaction that they receive is first rate and seems to be quite frequent and very humane.    The zoo is also an advocate of getting animals from an animal shelter, breeds endangered butterfly species for release into the wild, and is part of progressive animal preservation efforts outside of the zoo.   

 Part of the students' training is to put on the shows and to learn how to do outreach about animals and animal conservation in the community. The opportunity to get to see a cerval, which looks like an enlarged and elongated cat, only a few feet away in an intimate setting was so neat and fun. The animals could often do neat tricks and the exotic bird even performed a tongue twister.

Another really special part of the day is that as we were winding our way around the enclosures, we would sometimes find a trainer feeding and interacting with the animals. It was so much more authentic and memorable than a typical Sea World show. One trainer was working with a monkey and kept getting him to do a complete flip in the air with the promise of food.

Another trainer convinced an huge mountain lion to communicate with her and jump up around his cage as she fed him raw meat. All of the students we talked to were super friendly and I could tell how much they loved all of their animals and appreciated the opportunity to go to school there to learn about taking care of and training them. These students staff the zoo seven days a week and also keep the enclosures very clean.  Our favorite parts were definitely the shows (and the shows are all different so you can sit through all four and not see the same animals!) and the impromptu learning/feeding/training sessions we saw in the cages.

Logan pets an arctic wolf in the Creature Feature area.

This miniature horse is featured in one of the four daily animal shows at the zoo.