Private Animal Encounter Tour; Photo: James Dowling Healey

The Private Animal Encounter tour offers a guided experience plus the chance to get up close and personal with one of our education and public program animals. These special animals are not on display to the public and only make occasional appearances. It's the perfect opportunity to meet one of our non-human Academy ambassadors!

What's Included

  • One-hour guided experience (see options below)
  • Express entry into the building
  • An Animal Encounter with one of our education program animals
  • VIP entrance to Osher Rainforest
  • Express entry into the Shake House earthquake simulator
  • Reserved seating in the Planetarium
  • 10% discount in Academy Café, The Terrace Restaurant
  • 10% discount at the Academy Store, Lab Junior, or Aquarium stores



Choose from one of these guided tour options:

VIP Tour (Ages 8 and older)

Explore the Academy from an insider's perspective! Spend an hour behind the scenes learning more about the institution's 160­-year history and how our scientists are tackling critical questions about life on Earth. Visit the research collections and a working laboratory, get closer to the living roof, and examine breathtaking geology specimens in the Vault.

Reefs to Rainforest Tour (Recommended for ages 5 to 7 with their adult chaperones)

What do coral reefs and rainforests have in common? Find out as you explore two of the Academy's most popular live animal exhibits on an hour long guided tour. Learn about the unique species that live in these ecosystems and hear stories of the Academy’s expeditions to these dynamic environments.


Cost and Criteria:

Public: $175 for up to four guests. $40 each additional guest, maximum of 14 guests. Does not include Daytime Admission tickets.

Academy members: $140 for up to four guests. $40 each additional guest, maximum of 14 guests. Does not include Daytime Admission for public guests.

Private Animal Encounter Tour is offered Tuesday–Sunday, subject to availability. Advance reservations recommended at least 7 days in advance.

Please note: Guests must be age 8 or older to participate in the VIP Tour. The Reefs to Rainforest tour is an option for families with children ages 5 to 7 and offers a guided experience of our Rainforest and Aquarium. Guests between the ages of 5 and 17 must be accompanied by an adult. Each tour is limited to 14 guests. The animal encounter will be with one of our education program animals, not an animal we have on exhibit. Due to the daily program structure, we cannot guarantee a specific animal. Our education animals include a variety of small reptiles and invertebrates.


Full payment is due at time of booking for individuals or groups under 10. For groups of 10 or more, a 50% nonrefundable deposit is due at the time of booking and total balance is due 30 days prior to your tour date. If you are booking a tour within 30 days of your tour date full payment is due at the time of booking. Cancellations occurring 30 days or more prior to tour date, will receive a full refund minus the deposit.