Henry Vilas Zoo

702 South Randall Avenue
608 266-4732


Our mission at the Henry Vilas Zoo is to conserve and protect the wonders of the living natural world and to help build understanding between people and animals by promoting conservation and providing a high quality recreational and educational experience to our visitors.


On June 30, 1904, Col. William and Anna Vilas gave a large tract of land to the Madison Park and Pleasure Drive Association for the uses and purposes of a public park and pleasure ground.

The park was named in memory of the Vilas' son, Henry, who died at a young age due to complications from diabetes.

In 1911, the first animal exhibits were created, representing the start of the Henry Vilas Zoo. In what has proved to be a defining and truly visionary move, the Vilas Family stipulated that the park always be admission free.

As the zoo developed within the park, it too remained free thanks to community support.

The Henry Vilas Zoo is one of ten remaining free Zoos in North America. As an accredited AZA (Association of Zoos & Aquariums) zoo, our mission is to conserve and protect the wonders of the natural living world.


Jerry Dubois

Thursday, July 5, 2018
The zoo is pretty darn awesome. Obviously there's going to be animals, but I feel like like have a really good spread of exotic animals as well as the ones you can find here in the states every day, or at least within a reasonable distance. They have really nice bug, fish, reptile, and bird exhibits that have a ton of really cool information. They have confession stands for the kids and adults for when you want to spend an entire day at the zoo and start to get hungry or thirsty on the long, hot summer days. if you're something who plays Pokemon Go I'd suggest coming here as I believe that there are 37 stops/gyms last time I counted. While you're there playing Pokemon, go check out the animals and support the zoo, it's a really great place to experience!

Susan Poole

Friday, June 8, 2018
For a free zoo alone, it should maybe get five stars as they do have quite a few exotic animals,which aren't cheap to maintain. So, for the price, it's a very good zoo. As a zoo in general, it was nice but not great--- though it looks like there is active building and renovating going on. The do have an amazing bronze turtle statue outside the repule building, if I remember right, that people can sit on for pictures that has fabulous detail and patina from the shiny brass to greens where there is less rubbing. Truly beautiful! Giraffes, camel, lions, seals, flamingos, "Wisconsin" Badgers, prairie dogs, etc....plenty to see and probably a lot prettier now that hings have greened out. Definitely worth a trip! Places to picnic inside, too.

David McDonald

Wednesday, June 20, 2018
A great park with a nice zoo. The animals were mostly active and visible. We saw lots of caretakers and the animals looked clean and happy. My kids had a great time. Parking can be a bit of a chore. There is near by 2 and 3 hour parking and there is more at other entrances to the park the zoo is located at. We had a group of 28 all together and we moved the the zoo at a steady pace and saw just about everything in 2 hours, so the 2 hour parking is just right.

Daniel Freiberg

Thursday, June 21, 2018
The zoo is a great public place. They have a lot of unique animals and it seems to be fairly clean. A lot of family's go to the zoo! It's also free so don't think you have to shell out a ton of money just to get your family in for a few hrs. However I like the zoo because right next to it is a little lake front that is perfect for kayaking, paddle boarding and just chilling. It's called lake Wingra

Nick Farmer

Saturday, June 23, 2018
The Henry Villas Zoo is one place that everyone in Madison knows and those that travel to Madison should absolutely visit. It is free to enter but donations are always accepted to keep the zoo funded and the animals taken care properly. While it is a small zoo, they have a lively and charming selection of animals to come see that people of all ages can enjoy spectating and admiring. Henry Villas Zoo is located in a beautiful part of the city and has plenty of parking and the perfect place to spend a few hours of your day getting out of the house.

Recent News

Earth Day and Party for the Planet Celebration

Plant a tree and help protect local BIODIVERSITY!  Henry Vilas Zoo will celebrate Earth Day by giving away trees and with many more fun activities including: Distribution of 1500 saplings - courtesy of Wisconsin DNR with thanks to Kohl's A Team volu…

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