AuSM Adults with ASD at the Minnesota Zoo

AuSM and the Minnesota Zoo are pleased to offer three classes for adults with autism (ages 18+) who live in Dakota and Ramsey Counties. The classes, made possible in part by the Dakota and Ramsey County Autism Grant, are tailored for adults with autism who want a deeper understanding of building enrichments for animals, how zoo veterinarians keep the animals fit, and of how climate change effects Minnesota plants and animals. Classes are designed for individuals who do not need direct service professional supports or supervision.

The metro bus is a great way to get to the zoo. If you require transportation assistance, contact AuSM’s education team at [email protected] or call 651.647.1083.

Register for each of these classes online at or call 651.647.1083.

Enrichment in Action: July 16 from 1-3 p.m. Cost: $5
In the zoo world, “enrichment” refers to the toys, treats, training, and more that keep zoo animals curious, active, and using their natural skills and behaviors. In this class we’ll explore different types of enrichment, prepare some items, and then watch the animals enjoy them! This class will include:

  • A classroom talk on the definition, purpose, and types of enrichment
  • Meeting a zoo staff person who works with animals
  • Working in pairs or small groups to create enrichment items (might include using tools; working with food items; or making decisions about how to shape or manipulate objects, like plants or string, to create a fun toy)
  • Walking through the zoo’s public spaces to watch animals receive enrichment on exhibit

Zoo Veterinarians: Aug. 6 from 1-3 p.m. Cost: $5
Keeping our animals healthy and fit is our top priority! In this class, meet some of the animal health staff who work with our animals, and enjoy an extended behind-the-scenes tour of our animal health building and animal hospital. We’ll try our hand at diagnosing animals based on their X-rays, check out the busy lab, and see how sometimes everyday objects can be repurposed to help with our animals. This class will include:

  • A classroom talk on the animal health department at the zoo
  • Riding in large golf carts or other transit on the zoo’s back roads (10 minutes each way) to another building, and later back to the classroom
  • Meeting with a zoo vet and/or vet tech
  • A behind-the-scenes tour of the animal health building/animal hospital, which includes viewing rooms where we perform surgeries, necropsies, lab analyses, etc. We won’t see any procedures happening, but we will see surgical tools, specimens in jars, x-rays, tranquilizer guns, etc. Please note that sensitive students sometimes find themselves feeling queasy at points of this tour, and need to step outside with the teacher.

Climate Change and MN’s Wildlife: Sept. 17 from 1-3 p.m. Cost: $5
Climate change is already affecting Minnesota’s plants and animals. Meet some Minnesota animals and learn all about our native ecosystems, ongoing research, how to get involved, and what scientists already are learning about how climate change will affect our natural heritage. This class will include:

  • A classroom talk on climate change, how it works, and what we’re seeing in Minnesota
  • Meeting a zookeeper who works with moose, and getting a behind-the-scenes tour of the moose barn, including walking on an elevated walkway over their barn and potentially providing them some treats
  • Seeing, learning about, and potentially petting one or two live Minnesota animals in our classroom
  • Walking through the zoo’s public areas and looking at plants outside

Register for each of these classes online at or call 651.647.1083.