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Zoo Policies & Rules

Be A ZOO-PER GUEST!  Know Before You Go

Tips for visiting the Washington Park Zoo:
  • For a quieter experience, visit on weekdays and when the temperature is below 70 degrees.

  • Be sure to wear comfortable walking shoes.

  • Stay quiet and respect the animals and the visitors around you.

  • Don’t forget to bring your sunscreen!

​We ask that for the safety of the animals and visitors, guests abide by our rules and safety guidelines:
Prohibited Items

The following items are not permitted: Balloons, plastic straws, bicycles, skateboards, other skating equipment (including hoverboards), laser pointers, coolers, balls, radios, glass bottles or cups, etc.

No Smoking

The Washington Park Zoo is a smoke-free facility. Our mission to lead and inspire by connecting people and wildlife starts with the health and safety of the animals in our care, Zoo guests, and employees. This policy includes all use of smoking products, including cigarettes, cigars, and pipes as well as alternative smoking devices including e-cigarettes, on Zoo grounds. 

Area Closings Information

There are a number of reasons why some animals may not be on public exhibit when you visit: regular maintenance on exhibits; new exhibit construction; health issues and exams or training; bedrooms are often left open so animals have the important choices they need to go in and out of their bedroom/off-exhibit spaces, especially when weather conditions are an issue; if there are babies or breeding protocols; and if darkness is involved, to name just a few.  Priority is given to the safety and well-being of the animals at all times. Thank you for helping us be expert caretakers.


You are welcome to take photos and/or videos for personal use only; commercial or staged photography requires prior written permission from the Zoo. On occasion, we will photograph or take videos of visitors for educational or promotional purposes. Entry to the Zoo grants permission for use of these images.

When taking photos/videos guests are not permitted to cross barriers or use devices, such as monopods or tripods, to do so.

Drones are strictly prohibited to fly over the Zoo grounds for the safety of the animals and our staff. 

Weapons Policy

No firearms, knives, or other weapons are permitted on Zoo property. 

No Pets

For the health and safety of our animals, pets of any kind are prohibited in the Zoo.  In accordance with the ADA, the zoo allows service animals* on the grounds.   Pets, therapy animals, and emotional support animals are not considered service animals under the ADA and therefore are not permitted within the Zoo. 

Service Animal Guidelines & Policies

For guests that have service animals, we ask that you notify the admissions window staff so that a tour of some of the areas can be arranged.

* According to the ADA, a service animal is defined by the ADA as “a dog* that has been individually trained to do work or perform tasks for the benefit of an individual with a disability. The task(s) performed by the dog must be directly related to the person’s disability.”

We appreciate your visit, but for the well-being of your pets, please DO NOT leave them in your car while you are in the zoo and they are not permitted in Washington Park or the Beach.

  • Service animals must be on duty and serving in their official capacity and under the control of a handler at all times.

  • The owner of the service animal is solely responsible for its care and supervision.

  • Under the ADA, service animals must be harnessed, leashed, or tethered unless these devices interfere with the service animal’s work or the individual’s disability prevents using these devices.

Allowed Areas:

Service animals may accompany guests in all outdoor areas and in most indoor public areas. Service animals may also accompany guests into all dining and retail areas, in accordance with ADA.

Restricted Areas:

Due to the natural predator/prey instinct of animals, as well as health and disease transmission concerns, there are a few areas of the zoo where service animals are not permitted to accompany their handlers. However, since we want all guests to enjoy all areas of the zoo if any guest with a service animal would like to visit an area where service animals are not permitted, the zoo is happy to provide a guided walk-through of the area by a staff member while another member of the guest’s party supervises the service animal. 

For the safety of our guests, service animals, and zoo animals, service animals may not accompany guests inside Jungle Building, Wings of Wonder habitat, and at the following areas/activities inside the Red Barn area or permit animals to go up to the animals' habitat fences in the area. 

Special Circumstance Restrictions:

Due to the natural predator/prey instinct of animals, some zoo animals may react quickly or violently to the presence of a service animal. Service animals may be temporarily restricted from specific public areas due to zoo animal concerns regarding new births, hatchings, nesting, or breeding. If at any time the presence of a service animal upsets zoo animals—causing them to become distressed, aggressive, or dangerous to themselves or others—the service animal must be removed from that area. In that event, the zoo will offer a guided walk-through of the area as specified above. 

Respect Our Animals

Please treat the Zoo’s animals with respect and remember that you are a visitor in their home.  Animals are easier to see in a calm environment, so please do not yell at them, chase fence lines, or bang on enclosures. 

No animals, including our free-roaming peafowl, are to be harmed, harassed, or chased. Also, animals, plants, or other materials such as eggs, plants, hair, horns, feathers, etc. may not be removed from the zoo grounds.

Feeding animals is prohibited throughout the Zoo except in approved areas with the specialized provided feeds! This is to ensure the health and safety of the animals. If you see a guest feeding an animal, please contact a Zoo Team Member.

Do Not Throw Objects

Foreign objects like coins, rocks, straws, or any plastics can injure and even kill animals.

Do Not Bring Outside Food

No outside food, drinks, or alcoholic beverages are not allowed on Zoo grounds.

Please note that all of our animals’ diets include specific foods and anything not a part of that diet may be harmful, even if it seems like they could eat it. Feeding of the animals is allowed for the goat yard and parakeet area, but it must be done with the food that is provided by the Zoo. 

Wash your hands after touching animals at the Zoo, especially before eating.

Wear Proper Attire

Keep your shirt and shoes on while walking around the Zoo! We suggest wearing comfortable shoes due to our uneven terrain, we don’t even suggest flip-flops.

Children Must be Supervised at All Times

Children must be supervised at all times while in all areas of the Zoo, including the Safari Train, Wings of Wonder exhibit, and the Treehouse Gift Shop.   


Students must stay with their assigned leader at all times. There must be one adult chaperone for every ten children.                                                      

Do Not Run in the Zoo

The Zoo location is on a hill so for your safety, please do not run.

Never Cross Any Fence or Barrier Within the Zoo

Please stay on the pathways and we do not permit anyone standing or climbing on exhibit barriers; shouting at or teasing animals; throwing objects into exhibits, or littering the Zoo grounds.

Please do not try to touch the animals outside the Red Barn area. All animals can bite and their habitats are their homes.


Code of Conduct

Disrespectful behavior, such as vulgarity, loitering, intoxication, theft, and all other actions that negatively impact our guests will not be tolerated and may result in ejection from the park without a refund. The Zoo reserves the right to deny admission or cancel any membership if the bearer violates park safety and security rules.

We ask that visitors stay on paved, public walkways, except for in picnic areas. If you see a guest walking off walkways, standing or climbing on exhibit barriers, shouting at or teasing animals, throwing objects into exhibits, or littering the Zoo grounds, please contact a Zoo staff member.

If you ever see a person in immediate danger, contact a Zoo Team Member immediately. DO NOT TAKE RISKS IN ANIMAL EXHIBITS. Never attempt a rescue when dangerous animals are involved. Keep your eye on the person and call for assistance. Please do not call 911 as the Zoo Staff are onsite and trained to provide critical information to emergency personnel. 

We cannot allow activities that disturb the ambiance that the public expects of the Zoo. Therefore, we reserve the right to refuse admittance or to ask people to leave the park if their behavior is disruptive to the other guests or to the operation of the Zoo. Such behavior includes, but is not limited to the following:​

  • Intoxicated guests

  • Improperly dressed guests: The Zoo is a family-friendly location and we ask all guests to wear a shirt, pants/shorts/skirt, and shoes at all times. In addition, guests should not wear any clothing with offensive or vulgar words and/or phrases printed on it.

  • Guests involved in altercations with other guests and staff.

  • Guests abusing animals and/or climbing into animal containment areas.

  • Guests committing a crime such as shoplifting, theft, etc.


Your cooperation with these rules is appreciated. 
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