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Animal Encounters at Virginia Zoological Park

At first glance, the Virginia Zoological Park, aka the Virginia Zoo, may seem like a tame venue for strolling through the exhibits alongside tiger-loving tykes, but this 53-acre zoo is equipped with more than 10 indoor and outdoor event spaces that can turn an event or a meeting into a wild experience.

“With all of our different spaces that can be easily transformed, the zoo really is an event professional’s dream,” said Joshua Hillman, event manager for the Virginia Zoo in Norfolk, Virginia. “While we have multiple areas that serve as educational classrooms and meeting rooms, we have tons of outside areas that are versatile for any event needs. We have staged weddings, corporate events, charity walks, concerts, movies, date nights, as well as major fundraisers like ZooBoo or, my personal favorite, our ROARchestra concert with the Virginia Symphony Orchestra event. It was a wonderful collaboration that made some remarkable magic moments.”

The zoo in Norfolk has been delighting and entertaining guests for more than a century since it starting acquiring animals back in 1900 as the Lafayette Zoological Park. It wasn’t until 1987, just two years after the zoo was renamed the Virginia Zoological Park, that it received its accreditation by the American Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA), a true testament to the staff’s dedication to preserving the beauty of the landscape as well as meeting the strict standards of the AZA for site maintenance.

“Not only do we provide a beautiful space and a diligent staff, but the attraction greatly relies on the animals,” Hillman said.

The AZA renewed the zoo’s title the same year the freshly finished lion exhibit was named “one of the best in the country.” The Virginia Zoo has become a Norfolk treasure over the past century, providing a home for more than 400 animals from across the globe and a memorable venue for meetings and events of 15 to 500 guests.


Meeting Spaces

The event staff at the Virginia Zoo always has fun crafting exciting event spaces around the 53-acre park, but the most popular are the set rentable spaces. The park offers four indoor venues that can accommodate 20 to 50 guests and 11 outdoor venues varying in size. The largest is the Event Pavilion, for up to 500 guests, with retractable walls perfect for seated dinners or live concerts. Other spaces are the Event Field, an add-on for the Event Pavilion; the Burong Passage, Fountain Plaza, the Siamand Island Overlook, Riverbend and Flora Point, for up to 150 guests each; the Conservatory Garden, for up to 100 guests; the Garden Tent and the Rose Garden, for up to 75 guests each; and Goode Train Station, for up to 30.


Monkey Business

Whether it’s an intimate gathering around the primate house or a gala celebration surrounding the lion den, hosting an event around wildlife adds a new dimension to an affair. The Virginia Zoo is famous for its Trail of the Tiger exhibit and its other exotic Asian animals, which include orangutans, moon bears, tapirs, otters and more. Groups also love waving “g’day” to the brand new wallabies in the Australia exhibit or getting their pictures taken with Cita, the star of the zoo. The artistic African elephant, who likes to paint in her free time, has appeared in films including “The Color Purple,” “Sheena Queen of the Jungle” and “Pee Wee’s Big Adventure.”