Information on:

Henry Vilas Zoo

702 South Randall Avenue
608 266-4732


Our mission at the Henry Vilas Zoo is to conserve and protect the wonders of the living natural world and to help build understanding between people and animals by promoting conservation and providing a high quality recreational and educational experience to our visitors.


On June 30, 1904, Col. William and Anna Vilas gave a large tract of land to the Madison Park and Pleasure Drive Association for the uses and purposes of a public park and pleasure ground.

The park was named in memory of the Vilas' son, Henry, who died at a young age due to complications from diabetes.

In 1911, the first animal exhibits were created, representing the start of the Henry Vilas Zoo. In what has proved to be a defining and truly visionary move, the Vilas Family stipulated that the park always be admission free.

As the zoo developed within the park, it too remained free thanks to community support.

The Henry Vilas Zoo is one of ten remaining free Zoos in North America. As an accredited AZA (Association of Zoos & Aquariums) zoo, our mission is to conserve and protect the wonders of the natural living world.


Clement Livai

Saturday, May 12, 2018
I put down 4 star because its was a nice zoo n it was free, but I did donated to help the animals and organization to keep safe, health and last long for next time I bring my family again. I was going to put 5* but the parking seem a need of work. There are only few parking space close to the zoo but you have street park your car little bit distance from the zoo. Over all I can't complained about the zoo, you'll love it. My kids loved it! P.S>There is food store inside! #Yum!

Edward Miller

Tuesday, April 17, 2018
When we first moved here, we could not believe it was a free zoo, but it is! Donations are what keep this beautiful zoo running and open free to the public! Many field trips here that the kids gained great information on all types of animals. They have a wonderful variety of animals, with new buildings going up for better enrichment! The animals seen so happy and the zoo keepers are excited to work with the animals. Very serene environment! I love going here!

Amy Wohlers

Tuesday, May 1, 2018
Always improving! So crazy that this place is free and able to constantly make improvements. Few indoor/sheltered exhibits. Lots of picnic space. Bring your own food/drink is totally allowed. Volunteers are enthusiastic and willing to chat.

Lisa Dawsey

Wednesday, May 9, 2018
This is a true asset to Madison. My children love to visit often and I cannot be more thankful that it is donation based so that families who might not otherwise be able to visit can feel welcome and their children have the chance to enjoy it as well. If you can, consider increasing your donation when you visit to support this community asset.

Grant Armbruster

Tuesday, May 15, 2018
Love love love this zoo. We have been taking our kids almost every year for nearly 2years. Every year there is new and fun and exciting exhibits they recently remodeled the Bears and the giraffes and the herpetarium and converted the bug-house into a Discovery Center. My kids can't get enough of the zoo they would spend days there if it was closer we make a 2 hour drive to visit every year.

Henry Vilas Zoo is not affiliated with AmericanTowns Media