Springfield Park District's Henson Robinson Zoo is home to animals native to Australia, Africa, Asia and North and South America. Come visit and walk through the naturalistic exhibits that house more than 90 species of native and exotic animals. Learn how Henson Robinson Zoo, in cooperation with the American Zoo and Aquarium Association, is working to preserve endangered species.

2018 Hours:

The Henson Robinson Zoo will be open the following weekends from 10am-4pm:

November 3rd and 4th

November 10th and 11th

November 17th and 18th


The zoo will be open the following dates from 5-9pm* for Winterland Holiday Lights:

November 30th thru December 2nd

December 7th thru 9th

December 14th thru 16th

December 19th thru 23rd

December 28th thru 30th

*last admission will be sold at 8:30         

Please visit our Facebook Page for zoo updates and more information on Special Events.

Calls to the Zoo can be taken at 217-585-1821.

For Education and Animal Programs contact the Education Curator at ext. 1706.

For the Business Office contact the Business Administrator at ext. 1701.

For all other general operations questions or party rentals call the Zoo Office at ext. 1704.

Admission Rates:

Adults:                $6.25

Children (3-12):   $4.50

Seniors (62+):     $4.75

Group rates are available for groups with 10 or more paying individuals. Please call for rates (217)585-1821.

General Information:

The Henson Robinson Zoo began as just a dream of a prominent Springfield citizen by the name of Henson C. Robinson. In 1967, a tract of land was donated to the Springfield Park District by the city of Springfield to fulfill his dream. Construction of the zoo began in 1968 and on August 29, 1970, the Henson Robinson Zoo was officially opened. Over the years, the zoo has grown and expanded with the addition of several new animals as well as exhibits.

The zoo is now home to animals native to Australia, Africa, Asia and North and South America. Over 90 species of native and exotic animals are housed here among naturalistic exhibits. The zoo participates in scientific research studies and conservation efforts in addition to providing a fun and educational environment for people of all ages.

The Henson Robinson Zoo Mission:

To enhance the education of our community to wildlife and its conservation while providing an enjoyable and recreational experience. We shall achieve our mission by providing a variety of educational opportunities that increase the awareness of nature and our environment and by developing naturalistic exhibits that create a greater appreciation for wildlife.

Volunteering at the Henson Robinson Zoo:

Henson Robinson Zoo offers unique and exciting opportunities for volunteering. There are two volunteer programs in which you may choose to participate.

  • Docents
  • Special Event Volunteers

While you may choose to pursue only one program, volunteers are encouraged to participate in as many as they want.


(doe-sent) n.

  • A teacher or lecturer at a university who is not a regular faculty member. A lecturer or tour guide in a museum, zoo or cathedral.

Who Are Docents?

Docents are adult volunteers at the Henson Robinson Zoo that assist with educational activities and special events. You must be 18 or older to become a Docent. However, you may begin training to become a Docent if you will be turning 18 that year.

What Do Docents Do?

number one Docent activity is "Close Encounters," in which you would take one of our people friendly education animals out on zoo grounds and let visitors get an up close experience while answering their questions about that animal. You might also volunteer for "Animal Ambassadors" in which you would answer visitor questions at your favorite animal's exhibit. In addition, you could volunteer to assist us with one of our special events, education classes, Zoo To You programs, or amphitheater animal programs. You would have opportunities to groom and walk our equines and shadow zookeepers as well.

How Do You Become A Docent?

To b
ecome a Docent, you must complete the 10 session Docent training course held on Saturdays from 9:30 to 12:00 January through March. If training classes have already begun or have finished for the year, contact the Education Curator at (217) 585-1821 or emcevoy@hensonrobinsonzoo.org to be placed on the contact list for the next training session. You will be contacted when registration for the training course begins. Your registration and waiver forms registration form [PDF, 63k] and a one-time fee of $100.00 for the training course may be submitted to the zoo at that time.

Once training is finished, you will be free to volunteer as a Docent any day of the week or weekend, at any time during zoo hours, and for the activity of your choice. Docents must volunteer for a minimum of 15 hours per year.

Special Event Volunteers:

Special Event Volunteers volunteer their time for one of several activities during one of the zoo's many special events. Some of the tasks a volunteer may be given include wearing costumes, running children's games & crafts, vendor set-up and cleanup, photo taking, turtle races and much more!

Requirements of Special Event Volunteers

Special Event Volunteers may attend one special event or many. Shifts on these days are flexible. Special Event Volunteers must be at least 16 years old.

How to become a volunteer.

The first step in becoming a volunteer at the Henson Robinson Zoo is to fill out registration and waiver forms registration form [PDF, 63k]. Please return these forms to: Henson Robinson Zoo, 1100 East Lake Drive, Springfield, Illinois 62712.


Join the Wildest Group in Town!

Become a year-round supporter of the Henson Robinson Zoo! Your support will help ensure that the Henson Robinson Zoo will continue to serve the public with quality educational and recreational experiences as well as assisting in conservation efforts through other national organizations.

Your membership also offers a variety of exciting opportunities!

  • Free admission to the zoo year-round.
  • Free or discounted admission to more than 100 zoos and aquariums across the country.
  • Invitations to special members only events and previews of new exhibits.
  • 20% discount at the Henson Robinson Zoo gift shop.
  • Additional benefits for Donors, Patron, President and Lifetime Members.

Membership Levels

  • Individual, $40
  • Family, $65
  • Donor, $100
  • Patron, $150
  • President, $300
  • Lifetime member, $800

For more information or to purchase a membership, please contact the zoo at (217) 585-1821.

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