Take a walk on the wild side with up-close animal encounters
Paso Robles zoo launches ‘You to Zoo’ animal experiences
By Tara LaBounty, a guest contributor
–Nestled in vineyards just a few miles east of Paso Robles are the Conservation Ambassadors of Zoo to You. This year they’ve turned the famous local zoo into a ‘You to Zoo’ experience with special animal encounters.
Visitors can choose from options like the Eagles and Friends Animal Encounter, Alligator and Reptile Friends Encounter, Otter and Friends, Lemur and Friends, or Kangaroo and Friends encounters. Guests can even add on a behind-the-scenes zoo tour to see the big cats and learn more about Conservations Ambassadors at Zoo to You.
These small, intimate encounters offer an opportunity to get up close to the animals without undue stress to them. Guests can immerse themselves for a full hour in the company of the animals as they play on and around you.
David Jackson founded Conservation Ambassadors and Zoo to You almost 30 years ago. His lifetime love of animals inspired him to create a place where he and his family can give a worldwide voice to wildlife by providing a permanent, loving home for displaced, abused, abandoned, or permanently injured wild and exotic animals. He is joined by his wife Lisa, a former trainer at Sea World, and his children, Samantha and Christopher.
Many of the Conservation Ambassadors’ animals are rescues from all over the US who cannot be released back into the wild. Due to the animal’s comfort with people, and Lisa’s skill as a trainer, Zoo to You was born. Before the pandemic, Zoo to You regularly brought animals out to the public for education and special appearances.
The animals have traveled all over. They often get their own seats on airplanes, and frequently represent organizations like the San Diego Zoo. Their North American River Otters, Tucker and Ollie, have been on the Tonight Show three times and Zoo to You has averaged 200 school programs a year.
The cost for the animal encounters start at $125 per person and this once-in-a-lifetime experience helps fund Conservation Ambassadors non-profit. For more information or to book an encounter visit www.conservationambassadors.org or call (805) 391-0604. Zoo to You is located at 2445 Adobe Road, Paso Robles, CA 93446.
–Photos by Tara and Kevin LaBounty