Do you want to introduce your students, scout group, after-school program, or senior center to exciting concepts in wildlife science, zoology, conservation, and even topics in STEM education… but don’t have the time or means to make it to the Minnesota Zoo in person? Now you can have an entertaining and informative zoo naturalist brought right to you for a live, fully-interactive video conference all about animals at the Zoo and in the wild!

All programs align with both Minnesota and national education standards and include age-specific supplementary resources. Already coming to the Minnesota Zoo for a field trip? Our IVC programs also work well as a compliment to an actual on-site visit and include things you won’t see and learn on your own!

See what audiences are saying about the Minnesota Zoo’s IVC programs

Check out one of our programs in action.

Programs Currently Available:
Here & There Bears: Learn Zhongwen (Chinese) with Wildlife

Bears_TitleSlideLet the fuzzy and fascinating bears of the world take you on linguistic learning excursion to the far east! “Here & There Bears” compares our own North American black bears with their Asiatic cousins to explore the basics of Mandarin Chinese. If your students are studying China or just want to get a feel for the most-spoken language in the world (955+ million people!), this video conference combines themes of wildlife sciences, international conservation, and foreign language into an exciting new format… and of course each program includes a live-camera visit with the Minnesota Zoo’s own black bears too!

To book “Here & There Bears” on CILC, click here

Engineering by Animals: Inventive Nature

Humans are far from the only living creatures on earth that affect their environments in fascinating ways. “Engineering by Animals” looks at examples of wildlife that show animals going beyond their built-in physical adaptations, using and even altering their habitats to increase the chances of their own survival. During this program you will also have a chance to test your own animal ingenuity during its “Survival Solutions” activity!
To book “Engineering by Animals” on CILC, click here.

Engineering for Animals: Exhibit Design & Beyond

Zoos have come a long way in the last 75 years: blank concrete cells with steel bars have given way to lush, naturally-inspired enclosures with live plants and jungle-gyms that put our own playgrounds to shame. During this program you’ll visit a variety of the Minnesota Zoo’s cutting-edge animal enclosures live, and learn about the smart engineering that goes into designing a modern zoo exhibit. You’ll also test your own ingenuity by whipping up exhibit designs for animals that don’t even exist yet!
To book “Engineering for Animals” on CILC, click here.

Engineering from Animals: The Science of BiomimicryBiomimicryIVC

Biomimicry is the process of using nature in all its forms to inspire new solutions to human challenges. Today more scientists, engineers, and inventors are looking to nature than ever before, and during this program you’ll explore, hands-on, some of the most fascinating ways nature is shaping how humans design, build, and innovate. You’ll test your strength against some spider silk stand-ins; a friendly live arachnid might make an appearance in the studio too!
To book “Engineering from Animals” on CILC, click here.

Reduced Price Program! Only $50
Zoo Food for ThoughtZoo Food_title slide

Whether we’re talking about plants or animals, sometimes it seems like the natural world is all one big race to eat or avoid being eaten.  “Zoo Food for Thought” is designed to give students a snapshot of the world of “wild eats” from herbivore habits to carnivore cunning.  The program also explores the challenge of making sure animals in zoos receive all the nutrition they need, just as they would from their food webs in the wild.  Lastly, if you’ve ever wondered what happens to all the left-overs (and the stuff animals leave behind), “Zoo Food for Thought” shows how zoos avoid clogging landfills by helping their animal and food waste compost naturally without ever leaving Zoo grounds.
To book “Zoo Food for Thought” on CILC, click here.

Moose Mystery: Minnesota’s Vanishing IconMoose-Mystery

The moose has long been a symbol of Minnesota’s wild northern territories and beyond. However, in recent years the moose’s presence in Minnesota seems to be dwindling. This program focuses on both the characteristics of the moose and its place in the ecosystem as well as the work being done by researchers attempting to confirm and explain the moose’s gradual disappearance from Minnesota. After examining the evidence and the methods used to collect it, students will deliberate on their own theories of why the moose is vanishing.
To book “Moose Mystery” on CILC, click here.

Calls from the Wild: Exploring Animal CommunicationCalls-From-The-Wild

Have you ever heard a dog barking or a bird chirping and wondered what they were saying? Many researchers have wondered the same thing! This program explores some wilder examples of critter communication found in the animal kingdom— from familiar vocalizations to more exotic examples like bee dancing and chemical communication. We’ll also look at some of the creative ways scientists have learned to crack the code of animal chatter in recent years, including how prairie dogs use “grammar” and how crows spread rumors.
To book “Calls from the Wild” on CILC, click here.

 2nd grade – 12th grade and adults
*Fees:  $85.00/program for schools in Minnesota
$125.00/program for schools outside Minnesota

To book a program, contact Distance Learning coordinator Galen Sjostrom at or 952-431-9522.

*Thanks to funding in part from the Minnesota Legacy Amendment, the Minnesota Zoo is pleased to offer these programs at a discounted price of $85 for audiences in Minnesota. Regular pricing is $115 per program. Each program lasts approximately 45-55 minutes (depending on age of audience).


The Minnesota Zoo earned top honors and received the CILC Pinnacle Award (Center for Interactive Learning and Collaboration) for the 2012-2013 school year.




 What Our Audiences Are Saying…

“I would like to let you know how pleased we were with your program today. It was by far, and I’ve done MANY, the best program I’ve done through CILC. You were professional and kid-friendly, and all that you shared was appropriate for their level. You made the interactivity with my students personal (they loved that you picked up on their names) and engaging. We all absolutely loved it!”

4th grade, Dr. Levesque Elementary, Maine
Zoo Food for Thought

“Thank you again for a great experience! The kids all keep talking about their “trip” to the MN Zoo and several are expecting to actually go there with their families soon, so don’t be surprised if someone from ND asks for you. I hope this will be a springboard for more virtual trips with kids all over. You do a wonderful job of teaching to varying ages and keeping it fun.”

1st through 5th grades, Bismarck Public Schools
Minnesota Zoo Virtual Tour

“The students were actively engaged, and enjoyed themselves immensely. We finished the project in class, and they presented. All groups did a fantastic job! :) We will be crossing our fingers that we will have the opportunity to have this conference again!”

5th grade – Jacobson Elementary, Rush City Schools
Engineering for Animals: Exhibit design & Beyond

“My goal was for the students to become more aware of what goes on at the zoo, other than looking at the animals. I wasn’t aware of ALL of the things the engineers need to do to meet the needs of each specific animal. The students were highly engaged and it was wonderful to see the little light bulbs turn on at certain parts of the presentation. The program was interactive and the kids are more excited than ever to visit the zoo.”

4th grade, Jacobson Elementary, Rush City Schools;
Engineering for Animals: Exhibit design & Beyond

“Thank you for finding the information to their questions so quickly. We really enjoyed your video conference. It was great to see how engineering can be found in all areas of life and how we can use plants and animals to guide our engineering ideas and the engineering process. We hope to do another video conference with you in the future.”

5th grade, Eden Lake Elementary;
Engineering from Animals: The Science of Biomimicry

“[the presenter] was wonderfully engaging. He certainly understands how to communicate to kids– they LOVED him! The content was very interesting!”

3rd grade, Oak Point Elementary;
Engineering from Animals: The Science of Biomimicry

“A great fit for our ornithology and science standards. The next day we had crows in our courtyard and the conversation was rich about their memories and “smartness.” We decided we did NOT want to capture them. :)”

4th grade, Weaver Lake Elementary
Calls from the Wild: Exploring Animal Communication, Avian Edition

“My students confirmed for themselves scientific vocabulary that they knew and learned more about exactly what a zoo is and does. They learned that besides showing animals, zoos carry out research and are community assets.”

Mixed ages, Gusty Michael School, Aniak AK
Zoo Food for Thought

“Thank you so much for the wonderful program this morning. My colleagues that were in the room and I were absolutely amazed. You are wonderful at what you do. It is difficult for my kiddos to sit still that long and you had their attention the whole time! We spent a lot of time in the afternoon exploring the website and watching videos (some many many times…again and again and again! But they loved it so I didn’t mind!)”

3rd Grade, Brockton MA Public Schools
Zoo Food for Thought