Educate, The Red Panda Experience at Hemker Park & Zoo

Educate, The Red Panda Experience at Hemker Park & Zoo

Education is a key component to the daily experiences that Hemker Park & Zoo (HPZ) offers. Located in Freeport, MN, Hemker Park & Zoo is one of Minnesota’s premier zoo experiences—both for animals and people of all ages. Hemker Park & Zoo strives to provide opportunities for learning about the natural world and our place within it. Education at HPZ is not just about sharing knowledge, it is also about involving our guests and helping them form connections that will benefit not only animals but themselves and how they can make a difference.

These unique animal experiences have been made possible through the animal training program at Hemker Park & Zoo. Over the past year, Hemker Park & Zoo has worked with the Behavior 360 to help enhance the training program and add a unique animal experience for the guests to participate in through the new Red Panda Experience. This experience allows guests to get up-close and personal with our bamboo-loving red panda during our one-of-a-kind close encounter experience! During this exclusive opportunity, guests will spend time with the Animal Care team while visiting the red pandas in their habitat.

The curators have been training the red panda, Louie, to voluntarily participate in training sessions that have allowed guests to be a part of. This fun, unique experience has been a popular hit amongst zoo goers at Hemker Park & Zoo. As part of our mission to educate our guests, we have been able to tie in our conservation mission of helping Red Pandas in their natural habitat, while educating the guests about how we care for them, their special adaptations they have to live in their environment, how we can help red pandas and more. 

The new red panda experience at Hemker Park & Zoo is a unique way to observe and learn directly from live animals that increases public awareness and appreciation of wildlife. Through this new animal experience, it has also allowed us to strengthen the connection between humans and wildlife, while allowing young visitors to become more inspired to help future generations to become advocates for these animals. In addition, the red panda experience encourages awareness, garnered support for wildlife preservation, advocates responsible stewardship, and raises money to fund critical conservation efforts.


Through our educational experiences and on-site programs we have been able to  provide our guests with the education and understanding about the natural world, leaving our guests with a meaningful experience. The new red panda experience has been a way for HPZ to enhance our mission of education and core values on a daily basis through a multi-dynamic experience that allows guests to connect with wildlife while learning more about themselves! 

A Legacy of Love

Founded by Mark & Joan Hemker, the zoo has become a labor of love to honor Mark’s legacy since his passing 2006.