The program animal collection is distinct from the large collection of animals on exhibit at the Virginia Zoo, which are not used in programs (with the exception of some of those in the Zoo Farm). A variety of animals, including a few domestic ones, appear in programs: small and medium-sized mammals, birds, snakes, lizards, turtles and tortoises, frogs, salamanders, and several kinds of land-dwelling invertebrates.

These program animals are commonly presented at Zoo camps and “snoozes” (overnight group programs), and in outreaches, school programs here at the Zoo, performances on the ZooLive! Stage, family programs, special events at the Zoo, and birthday parties. Certain program animals are presented in public areas of the Zoo adjacent to exhibits when weather conditions are amenable.