Kids love animals––and inviting a few wild creatures to their next birthday party will wow and delight them. Whether you go tame with bunnies and kitties or seek adventure with slithering reptiles and galloping horses, read on to learn how your little party animals can go wild at a birthday celebration where the adorable furry or show-stopping scaly guests of honor will help them make childhood memories that will last a lifetime.

Ecovivarium

Support local non-profit Ecovivarium, that rescues reptiles while throwing your little one a reptile birthday party (it's educational too)! First, have the party coming to your place and invite 30 people to touch and learn about reptiles. Likewise, we recommend the Eek! Ectotherms party package where kiddos get up close and personal encounters and hands-on touching of 10 to 12 animals. So, from snakes and lizards to turtles and other creepy crawling critters you'll have an hour-long of reptilian fun.

Cost: Eek! Ectotherms party, $195; plus an extra $35 at your house
Online: ecovivarium.org

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Bunny Birthdays

Hippity hop bunny experts bring cute and fluffy creatures to your door. Six adorable bunnies, treats for hand feeding, pillows to sit on, face painting (for an additional fee) and one bunny expert will bring smiles to everyone’s faces. You can also add items like storybook time and bubble wands. Bunny Birthdays is collectively owned by urban farmers in San Diego and all the party proceeds go toward projects in sustainable living and community building.

Cost: from $290 for 25 guests
Online: bunnybirthdays.com

Nettie’s Pony Parties

Clippity-clop! Did somebody say ponies and petting zoo? Well, Nettie can make this happen at your house (or park or other birthday destination). Hand-held pony rides by an experienced party pal and fifteen petting zoo animals for the birthday bunch to touch, feed (and even hug). Parents love that the animals are miniature and a little unique—exotic looking rabbits, mini goats, mini sheep, ducks and a mini pig.

Cost: $399 for pony ride and petting zoo for two hours (mileage can add-on a $100 or more)

25496 Los Rancherias Rd.
Hemet, Ca
951-897-8612
Online: nettiespartypals.com

photo: Helen Woodward Animal Center

Helen Woodward Animal Center

Busy parents rejoice at Helen Woodward birthday parties. Choose four hands-on animal encounters—rabbits, turtles, miniature horse, sheep, snakes, and yes, hissing cockroaches (kids love them). Party in a private pavilion area and a special gift goes to the birthday star. Many activities, a playhouse, life-size fiberglass horse, hula-hoops and basketball keep little hands busy while they wait their turn to pet the animals. Party proceeds help the shelter.

Cost: from $235

6461 El Apajo Rd.
Rancho Santa Fe, Ca
858-756-4117
Online: animalcenter.org

photo: SDCDM

San Diego Children's Discovery Museum

Inviting your half-pint's entire class? Let out a little Yee-haw at the San Diego Children's Museum farm party. Little farm hands have a meet and greet with the chickens and explore the discovery garden. Even more, you'll have your own private party assistant and place to set up the goods. The best part is that everyone gets admission to the whole museum for all day entertainment.

Cost: $220 for 15 guests; $470 for 40 guests

San Diego Children’s Discovery Museum
320 N. Broadway
Escondido, Ca
760-233-7755
Online: sdcdm.org

Pacific Animal Productions

Pacific Animal Productions
A feel-good exotic animal petting zoo will come to your house in big wrapped birthday boxes (ventilated of course). Fun and educational, your super safari helper gets to be first to touch and see the animals. Partygoers will ooh and aah over an exotic monkey, fox, alligator and hissing cockroaches (you choose five per show), all while learning about the future conservation of the animals. Little ones get involved with clues and solving mysteries of what amazing animals are inside.

Cost: from $350

3946 S. Mission Rd.
Fallbrook, Ca
760-723-7761
Online: pacificanimalproductions.com

Rancho Del Mar Riding Academy

Hold your horses! Celebrate your little one's birthday (four and older) just horsing around at this local riding academy. "Hay," it's a whole day of fun. Learn about the horses, how to prep them to ride, then ride the horse (novices welcome)! Afterwards, young equestrians make ice cream to feed the horses and have a scavenger hunt. Finally, leave with a folder about fun and educational horse activities.

Cost: $45/rider; $225 minimum
Online: riderdm.com

photo: Becky Crimmins

The Lizard Wizard of San Diego

If creepy crawly creatures is what your little one craves the Lizard Wizard is your gal. Twenty-five scaly, slippery and interesting animals give an educational, hands-on experience that little tykes remember. Your cuties get to touch and hold snakes, lizards, frogs and bugs and even a large slithering python!

Cost: from $200 per party
Online: lizardwizardofsandiego.com

photo: Living Coast Discovery Center

Living Coast Discovery Center

If you live in south San Diego and sea turtles, sharks and rays appeal to your little birthday sweetie, a two-hour party at the Living Coast Discovery Center will bring an adventurous animal experience to your budding oceanographer. Scavenger hunt, chit chat animal encounter and a private decorated room all add some educational fun. Birthday admission includes animal exhibits, native gardens and walking trails.

Cost: from $350

1000 Gunpowder Point Dr.
Chula Vista, Ca
619-409-5905
Online: livingcoast.org

Sugar Sweet Farm

Farm it out! This hidden Encinitas gem is a wonderful spot for a birthday party for your little farmer. First, learn about the animals, nature and sustainable farming. Likewise, hold chickens, collect fresh eggs, brush the llama and feed bunnies. Top it off by playing in the organic garden and enjoying a horseback ride. Still more, little fairies decorate the outside patio where farmhands enjoy snacks and you can order Sweet Farm lemonade and piglet cupcakes for the guests.

Cost: $500 for a two-hour party with up to 8 children

Online: sugarsweetfarm.com

The Cat Cafe

Meeoow! Book a reservation at the Cat Cafe (for up to 6 people). Go a little untraditional with the purr-fect hands-on birthday adventure: petting kitties. Grown-ups can order their favorite coffee drinks while little ones can chow down on hot chocolate, donuts and muffins. Then, it's off to petting and snuggling with the cats. After, head to a nearby restaurant like The Old Spaghetti Factory for lunch and more birthday reverie.

Cost: $12/person for admission
Online: catcafesd.com

photo: Lenya McGrath

San Diego Zoo Koala Party

Party among the eucalyptus trees in the San Diego Zoo’s special birthday room. Enchant your little guests with up-close animal encounters (usually a bird and a reptile), zoo-themed decorations, cake, juice and more! Birthday includes a zoo-tastic visit by Dr. Zoolittle. Families will love that they get to prowl the zoo after the party—Zoo bus and Skyfari included. You get to feel good that your kids are learning while having fun and supporting the zoo.

Read our insider's guide to the San Diego Zoo.

Time: Saturday or Sunday
Cost: $79/person (birthday person free)

2920 Zoo Dr.
San Diego, Ca
619-685-3259
Online: sandiegozoo.org/birthdays

photo: Birch Aquarium at Scripps

Birch Aquarium at Scripps

Getting to touch baby sharks for the brave or tide pool animals for more timid toddlers makes Birch Aquarium at Scripps in La Jolla a major splash for age-themed birthday parties. The younger set will love to feel the bumpy, slippery underwater creatures. Older crowds (4 – 9-years-old) participate in a scavenger hunt that winds through the Aquarium, unraveling clues about sea dragons, majestic sharks and swirling fish. All led by an experienced aquarium instructor, so come ready to have a swimmingly good time.

Read our guide to the Birch Aquarium here.

Cost: $400; ($360 for members)

2300 Expedition Way
La Jolla, Ca
858-534-7336
Online: birchaquarium.edu

photo: Wild Wonders

Wild Wonders

Wild Wonders has worked with Discovery Animal Planet and rescues and raises animal ambassadors for awareness and fun. Delight little party guests with six safari surprises that come to your house for an hour of education and entertainment (you can also have a party at their site). Feel the feet of a giant millipede or let a 12-foot python slither across your lap— all while learning the importance of these animals in their environment. Your little cutie gets to be Junior Zookeeper and do everything first.

Cost: from $325

5712 Via Montellano
Bonsall, Ca
760-630-9230
Online: wildwonders.org

Radical Reptile and Friends

These animal enthusiasts have been entertaining San Diego families and schools for 14 years. If your little one can’t get enough of snakes and lizards, Radical Reptiles and Friends will put on a birthday party that will have guests screaming in delight. Parties run for one hour and include approximately a dozen animals of various species, ages and sizes. Kids learn about each animal and have a hands-on experience. There are no group-size limits with Radical Reptiles.

Cost: Varies, contact company
Online: radicalreptilesandfriends.com

Barn Animal Buddies

You're not Old MacDonald, but you can still bring the farm to your kiddo's next bash via the mobile petting zoo at Barn Animal Buddies. They'll up the party's fun factor by bringing 6-8 animals (ideal for parties with 12 or fewer kids) to your yard. Animal friends include pygmy goats, chickens, bunnies and a mini pig. The price goes up if you include a pony or a large Sulcata Tortoise.

Cost: Petting Zoo $250 for first hour, $100 each additional 30 minutes
Online: barnanimalbuddies.com

—Nikki Walsh

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