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Milwaukee County Zoo offering animal encounter tours

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MILWAUKEE (CBS 58) – The Milwaukee County Zoo is launching a new animal encounter program called Wild Connections.

The up-close encounters include throwing fish to the Inca tern birds, training tigers and getting close to snakes, lizards and turtles.

“We really wanted to offer the ability of guests to experience the animals a little bit more up close, more than we can normally and to make that connection with the animals that we have here,” Zookeeper Amanda Ista said.

CBS 58’s Emily Thornton went behind the scenes with zookeepers to get a preview of the encounters.

The first activity was learning how to correctly feed the zoo’s 100 koi fish.

Next, the tour went inside the zoo’s Herb and Nada Mahler Family Aviary to feed the malayan chevrotains. These animals are also known as mouse-deer and native to Southeast Asia. On the tour, you go behind-the-scenes into the keeper’s area to feed them their favorite snacks.


Ista says the tours not only benefit people, but the animals as well.

“One of the ways we came up with these tours is to take the animals that really do like that interaction with people,” Ista said. “Organize it into a way where people can have that up close and encounter that they want and the animals really like it.”

Another activity where you can get close to the animals is feeding the Inca terns. Watch below as Emily and Amanda throw fish to these bold birds.

The tours are available several days a week and range in price. You can sign up for a tour on the Milwaukee County Zoo website.

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