If you have a creature-loving kiddo at home, take a walk on the wild side and throw them an animal-themed birthday party. San Diego offers plenty of venues that are perfect for any animal lover. From a birthday at the San Diego zoo to spots that bring the zoo, farm, or jungle to you, scroll down to see where to book a bash that will have your party animals howling with delight.

photo: Zovargo

Zovargo

Make your little one feel like a VIP with a live animal encounter brought to you by Zovargo! Customize the animal selections and they'll set up a exhibit little party animals will love. Several professional, engaging educators/handlers are present at the exhibit to keep little ones safe, answer questions and educate guests. Customize your party based on your group's age and then choose a theme they'll love. Next, get ready for a fun and exciting time! 

Pro-tip: Virtual animal zoom-fari parties are also available. 

Zovargo
Online: Zovargo.org

Helen Woodward Animal Center

Busy parents rejoice at Helen Woodward birthday parties. They've thought of everything and made customizing your party easy-breezy. Choose between three theme choices for your kiddo's party decor: Bow-Wow birthday, Farmyard Friends or Jammin' Jungle. You may also choose a party package: ultimate, all-inclusive, and custom. These packages will dictate the number of hands-on animal encounters for your partygoers, length of party, and behind-the-scenes access. Animals include rabbits, turtles, alpaca, miniature horse, sheep, snakes, and yes, hissing cockroaches (kids love them), just to name a few. The party is held in a private pavilion area and activities including 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 support the shelter.

Tip: The birthday child can select the animals they'd like to interact with at the party. 

Cost: from $255

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

Ecovivarium

Support local non-profit Ecovivarium, which 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. Need invitations, cake or goody bags? You can purchase that through Ecovivarium! 

Cost: Party packages start at $275. 
Online: ecovivarium.org

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 birthday star gets to be the super safari helper and first to touch and see the animals. Partygoers will ooh and aah over an exotic monkey, fox, alligator and hissing cockroaches (choices vary based on which party package you select), 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. Best suited for groups of 25 or less. 

Tip: Add an animal of your choice for an extra $50. 

Cost: from $550

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

photo: Becky Crimmins

The Lizard Wizard of San Diego

Did you know some lizards can detah their tail when surprised? Or that others can live their entire life without drinking water? Wow your party guests with these fun facts and then give them a chance to get up close and personal with the creepy-crawly creatures courtesy of Lizard Wizard. Twenty-one 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

SEA-lebrate their birthday in style! 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.

Themes include feathered fiesta, shark and ray shindig and sea turtle celebration. 

Cost: from $400

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 an intimate family birthday party for your little farmers, age 4 and older. By opting for a Family Farm Tour young children can get a special experience that its private and small. The group is small in size, bu the experience is big fun, big education, big memories and BIG love from the animals. Your little animal lover will get to encounter their gentle friends in a safe setting. It's such a great option for smaller groups who want a magical visit to the Sugar Sweet Farm. 

Cost: Call to discuss tour and pricing. 

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.

Note: Please email The Cat Cafe if you'd like to host your child's birthday party there. They will discuss your options.

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

photo: Lenya McGrath

San Diego Zoo Private Party

Let your party animal go wild with a birthday party at the world-famous San Diego Zoo. If you want to splurge and go all out for your little one's birthday, book a private event at the zoo for a truly magical experience. Your booking helps support the work of the San Diego Zoo wildlife alliance and is sure to be a memorable experience for everyone! 

The San Diego Zoo
Balboa Park
2920 Zoo Dr.
San Diego, CA
619-231-1515
Online: sandiegozoo.org

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

 

 

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. See the latest updates and Covid-19 restrictions here

Cost: from $375

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

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 six to eight 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.

Choose a visit from Mistletoe the  Pygmy goat, Wilbur the not so Mini Pig, Marshmallow the Silkie Chicken.

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

—Aimee Della Bitta and Nikki Walsh

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