In the United States, visits to informal learning environments [ILEs] such as zoos, have historically been considered to be important educational experiences that promote increased student achievement in content-area subjects. Recently, however, funds are more likely to be diverted away from field trip experiences, depriving less-privileged students of opportunities to build rich background knowledge structures that could support long-term learning. This article considers the findings of a study that examined the effects of a visit to a community zoo on the science achievement of 3rd grade students. The findings suggest that although the novelty of the zoo environment may have served as a distractor in the short-term, in the long term, novel stimuli may have promoted increased learning by generating interest, increasing motivation, and providing students who had never before visited a zoo with sensory information to construct new and durable knowledge structures. Educators should therefore strive to provide less privileged students with more frequent opportunities to visit ILEs so as to expand their world knowledge. In addition, teachers are advised to consider how texts and classroom-based learning experiences can be used to complement visits to ILEs.