No. Not exactly. Or, Neal's favorite answer of all time, "yes and no." They offer party rooms that are big enough for 15-30 people and employ a catering service for these events. Basically, they can host an event, but not specifically a birthday party. Or...not anymore. I'm not sure what happened but the zoo is non-profit and perhaps they decided their attention and energy was better suited elsewhere. At any rate, we could have our event at the date I requested at the time I requested. Who cares what they call it?
The zoo's event coordinator contacted me fairly early on and she kept in good contact until the day of the party. If I emailed her a question, I was guaranteed an answer within 24 hours. I like that. Here are my only 2 sticking points with the zoo's process for event hosting: depending on the size of your party, your 2 room options are "Treetops" (15-20 people...although we managed to squeeze 33 in there) and "Zoo Vision" (25+ guests). Because we were originally only going to invite the closest family (grandparents, friends with kids, etc) we chose "Treetops" and we were assured that it was the best of the 2 rooms. When we signed our contract, we were required to pay the full amount for the number of guests up front. There is a $2 difference between kids (3-12) and adults (ironically, the 2-year old birthday boy was the only freebie). We decided to just pay the money for 15 guests and then hope that 15 people showed up. And then I did what any mama would do...I sent out about 30 invitations.
As RSVPs started to filter in during the last week of July, Neal and I quickly realized that we were going to exceed our 15 guest limit. A few days later, we realized that we were going to blow that number out of the water. 15...30...what's the difference? The zoo's only concern was that we pay for the additional 15 people before the day of the party. And this is where I have a beef with their event policy. We had to give a final number and pay for that final number BEFORE the day of the party. This wasn't properly explained to me during the initial conversation about a birthday party and it never occurred to me to ask. That meant that once we gave them the credit card for X number of people, we could not allow anyone else in the party. Why, if we had guests who were able to attend at the last minute, we couldn't allow them in (even just to the party, not necessarily for lunch...although we had gobs of food left over) was absolutely beyond me. And having to tell my cousins on Friday afternoon that they couldn't attend because I had already given my "final number" made me feel just awful.
But that was truly the only downside to having our little soiree at the zoo.
As it turns out, Treetops was amazing.
"Someone" wanted to come party, too! These guys were so interactive and curious that it was impossible to not interact back.
They hung for longer than the birthday boy did. (Actually it got pretty toasty in there after lunch, cake and presents and I think he was just looking for a cool spot to lay his cheek.)
Also, earlier in the week, I had taken Shana to visit the Creation Museum in northern Kentucky. It is an entire museum dedicated to furthering the belief that before Adam and Eve ate the apple, there was no death, no disease, no hate, no disabilities of any kind. Dinosaurs were plant-eaters (who were also on the ark, by the way) and the Grand Canyon (along with any other variation in topography) was all formed by the Great Flood. Oh...and we are not evolved from apes. We were created just as we are today, all descendents of Adam and Eve. I apologize if this is your thinking and I am coming across as mocking, but after spending 4 hours in a room with 2 apes, separated only by a glass wall, I don't understand how anyone can seriously believe that we aren't evolved from apes. This guy?
and I've certainly seen him eat like this...
Our event fees included lunch for all guests and then ride wristbands for unlimited trips on the merry-go-round, the train and tram, as well as admission into the zoo and the splash pad. It was approximately 85 degrees with 80% humidity and a heat index of at least 90. To the splash pad we all went.
It was a splashtastic good time. The water and the sun and the big birthday bash was too much for Blue and he completely conked out in the stroller before we ever got back to the car. And then he slept the entire 45-minute trip home and for another 2 hours, just like this:
We were quite satisfied with the zoo birthday party and at the end of the day, we felt we had gotten our money's worth from the zoo and the catered event. I would, without hesitation, recommend the Treetops room at the Louisville Zoo and their catering crew for any party you may be hosting. It's 2 high fives and a fist bump.