Museum Info

Boonshoft Museum of

2600 DeWeese Parkway
Dayton, OH 45414
(937) 275-7431
Fax (937) 275-5811
TTY (937) 278-6076

Directions & Map


Monday – Saturday
9:00 a.m.–5:00 p.m.
12:00 p.m.–5:00 p.m.

Closed: New Year's Eve, New Year's Day, Thanksgiving, Chistmas Eve, Christmas Day, Easter

General Admission

Children (3-17) $11.50
Seniors (60+) $12.50
Adults $14.50
Children under 3 and members are FREE.
Help us create a fun, safe environment for all our visitors! Children under 16 should always be accompanied by an adult in the Museum.
Learn More

CFC #36476


The Boonshoft Museum of Discovery’s Live Animal collection consists of over one hundred animals and insects located in several areas of the Museum, from the Discovery Zoo to the Tidal Pool and Bieser Discovery Center.

The Discovery Zoo at the Boonshoft Museum

They are adorable, furry, feathered, and sometimes even scaly, but most visitors agree – the residents of the Discovery Zoo are a must-see on every trip to the Boonshoft Museum of Discovery. Managed by the Live Animals Department, the Discovery Zoo consists of over one hundred animals and insects, ranging from entertaining river otters and engaging prehensile-tailed porcupines, to the ever-popular Patience the Sloth!

Why do animals look the way they do? From a skunk’s stripe to a kinkajou’s prehensile tail, learn why each creature has its own special shapes, colors and adaptations. This exhibit displays a variety of animals and habitats from Ohio and beyond. The Discovery Zoo explores the function behind the form. Whether an animal is strikingly beautiful or has an appearance only a mother could love, visitors will learn how an animal’s appearance, shape and size have been formed over time to help them survive in their natural habitat.

Since the Zoo’s renovations in 2010, the animals have been settling into more accommodating and spacious exhibit areas that offer more comfortable living for the residents and a wonderful, up-close experience for guests. Renovations included entirely new enclosures, ventilation systems, and staff work areas that allow the Live Animals staff to cultivate important relationships with their Discovery Zoo friends, which is essential to the health and happiness of these lively creatures because so many of them have been injured in the wild and are unable to survive on their own. Whether you visit the Museum’s river otters as they take a dip in their personal pond, or sneak a peek at the gregarious meerkats, the Discovery Zoo features some of the most amazing animals from both abroad and our own backyard.

Though the Discovery Zoo houses a myriad of Animal Ambassadors, some of the wet and wild animals can also be found in the Bieser Discovery Center and the Tidal Pool. The BieserDiscover Center is home to some of the “creepiest” critters which are often misunderstood because of their scary appearance, while the Tidal Pool is home to crustaceans and other creatures that inhabit the shore. So whether you stop by the Bieser Discovery Center to hang out with Rajeev, the Museum’s 16-foot-long Burmese python, or take a trip to the Tidal Pool to discover an indoor shoreline, there are live animal experiences to be found around every corner of the Boonshoft Museum.

Book a Private Live Animal Experience

The Live Animals Department at the Boonshoft Museum now offers private experiences and tours that allow guests to get an inside look at the Discovery Zoo and its adorable residents. With over 100 live animals, the Discovery Zoo and EcoTrek are home to all kinds of crazy critters, from our Two-Toed Sloth, Patience, to our charming Three Banded Armadillo, Sheldon.

Not only do these private programs allow guests to have hands-on interactions that our daily visitors don't typically experience, they also go behind-the-scenes with professional Zookeepers to care for our wonderful animals.


Behind-the-Scenes Interactive Tour of the Discovery Zoo

BennyFeedingExperience the most unique behind-the-scenes Zoo tour in the region. Not only will our professional Zookeeping staff take you on a guided tour of the Discovery Zoo and EcoTrek, you will have the chance to feed our otters and porcupines, craft an enrichment item for the Meerkats or Otters, interact with our most adorable animal ambassadors, and much, much more!

Perfect for small groups, this behind-the-scenes tour make a perfect gift experience, date night, or family outing.

Program includes:
• Private guided tour of EcoTrek animal room, PLUS interact with some of our most adorable animal ambassadors, like Sheldon the Three-Banded Armadillo.
• Private guided tour of the Discovery Zoo and Preparation Areas
• Guests craft an enrichment item for either Splasher and Diver, our River Otters, or those rascally Meerkats, then watch them interact and play with your special gift!
• Explore the Splasher and Diver's holding enclosure, then feed them a delicious Otter snack!
• Adventure into the Rainforest enclosure and get up-close with our adorable Prehensile-tailed Porcupines, Benny and Joon---and feed them some delicious treats.
• Plenty of opportunities to snap some pictures with your favorite animals.
• Take home a porcupine quill to commemorate your visit with us!

Programs may be booked Tuesday - Saturday at either 5:30 p.m., 6:00 p.m., or 6:30 p.m.
Group sizes should be at a maximum of 6 and a minimum of 2; available to children 3 and up.
Programming time: 1 hour
$75/person for groups sized 1-3, $250 flat fee for groups with 4-6 people.


Click here to begin the process of booking a Behind-The-Scenes Tour of the Discovery Zoo


Jr. Zookeeper for the Day

OtterSpend the morning walking in an actual Zookeeper's shoes, as you get an exclusive behind-the-scenes time with the live animals of the Discovery Zoo. Not only will Jr. Zookeepers get hands-on interactions with adorable animals, they will also learn about the care that goes into keeping our crazy critters happy and healthy!

Perfect for small groups, this behind-the-scenes program makes a perfect gift experience, intimate birthday celebration, or family outing.

Program includes:
• Quality, hands-on time with our Discovery Zoo residents, while learning about the care given to our adorable Zoo residents to keep them happy and healthy!
• Become an animal chef and help prepare food for our hungry Zoo crew—delicious!
• Much like your domesticated pets play with toys, our live animals use enrichment items to keep them active and engaged. Guests learn about enrichment items and give them to the animals so they can have a blast!
• Our Zookeepers are accomplished animal trainers and caregivers; one of the most important things they do is handling our live animals properly. Jr. Zookeepers get their chance to hold animals in a way that keeps them happy and comfortable.

Programs are available the first and third Saturday of every month, from 9:00 a.m. - 11:00 a.m.

Children 4 - 13 years old may participate with an accompanying adult. Older children, 14 and up, may participate with the written permission of a parent or guardian.
Programming time: 2 hours
$65/participant; there is no additional fee to include one parent/guardian participant (if applicable)


Click here to begin the booking process for a Jr. Zookeeper program.

If you have questions about these prorgams feel free to email our friendly staff at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .


Wish List

Gift Certificates:

Kroger, Pet Supply stores (PetSmart preferred), Home Depot/Lowe’s, Sam’s Club.

Food & Miscellaneous supplies:

Striped sunflower seeds, All Bran cereal, cornmeal, rolled oats, Alfalfa and Timothy hay, unsalted peanuts in the shell, mixed nuts in the shell, Minute Rice, spoon sized Shredded Wheat, quick rise yeast, gallon sized zip-lock baggies, quart sized zip-lock bags, aluminum foil, new and used pillow cases, new hand towels, new bath towels.

Cleaning & Maintenance Supplies:

Brooms/dustpans/mops, bleach, regular laundry detergent (non scented), dish soap (not for washing machine), antibacterial hand soap, hand sanitizer, broom size scrub brushes, power strips, high quality garden hoses (kink free)/ nozzles, Repti-sun 5.0 18” or 48” fluorescent, rechargable AA batteries, Pledge wipes, pleated sandwich bags, paper towels, spray bottles.

Pet Supplies:

Aquarium nets, mixed wild bird seed, mini hay bales, water bottles (hamster), Aqua-terrium animal containers.

Click here for a printable version of our Wish List.

The easiest way to help our Live Animal friends is to make an easy, safe purchase over Amazon by viewing our Amazon Wishlist.


Q. Does the Museum accept injured and orphaned wild animals?

Unfortunately rehabilitating injured and orphaned wildlife is not a service we are able to provide. We do not have the necessary staff, resources or space needed to provide rehabilitation. Feel free to call us though and we can direct you to the nearest wildlife rehabilitator

Q. Does the Museum’s live animal department accept pets into the collection?

We receive many calls throughout the year from folks who are looking for a new home for a pet that they can no longer care for. Unfortunately we usually cannot accept these animals for a variety of reasons. We may be able to help you find an agency that can help with unwanted pets though.

Q. How many animals does the museum have?

It varies year to year, but we generally have just over one hundred animals. This includes not only the mammals, birds and reptiles, but also all the fish and invertebrates.

Q. How can I become a zookeeper?

School is where it all starts. Almost all zoos require college degrees for entry level animal care positions and we are no exception. Our advice is to volunteer as a teenager at a zoo or museum and to pursue a college degree in biology, zoology or a similar degree.

Q. What is your largest animal?

At the Museum our largest animal by far is Rajeev, the Burmese Python. Weighing in at 155 pounds and almost 16 feet long, he is significantly larger than our runner-up Madison the bobcat. Rajeev is still growing and could reach a length of up to 22 feet!

Q. What does it mean to be AZA accredited?

AZA stands for the Association of Zoos and Aquariums. The AZA strives to promote the highest possible standards in all areas of the zoological profession. To become an accredited member of AZA requires a very detailed application and inspection process that looks at all aspects of your institution including animal care, education, staff professionalism, veterinary care and much more. There are currently about 200 AZA accredited institutions.

Q. How can I help the animals at the Boonshoft Museum of Discovery?

A. Teens over 14 years of age and adults who are willing to make a minimum commitment of six months after completing our specialized training program are welcome to apply for volunteer positions. In addition, an animal Wish List can be found below. Donations are always welcome.

Link to staff

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


The Boonshoft Museum of Discovery is an Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) accredited institution. Every five years we must go through a lengthy application, self-evaluation and peer review process to maintain our accreditation. AZA accreditation is a stamp of approval that the animals in our care receive the highest level of care.

Link to other relevant sites

Association of Zoos & Aquariums:
American Association of Zoo Keepers:


Explore, Dream, Learn & Support
We are a 501(c)(3) Non-Profit Organization


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Plan Your Visit

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Under Construction

  • Kids' Playce is currently under construction. Look for brand new additions to this exhibit starting in the fall through early 2016!

What is your favorite exhibit at the Museum?

Science On a Sphere® - 23.3%
Water Properties Table - 20.3%
Cassano’s Pizza Kitchen - 21.6%
Recycling Center - 16.6%
The Courthouse - 8.5%