What Can We Do at the Zoo?

School Programs

Close Encounters School Programs
No stuffy lectures here, these programs for grades PreK-8 introduce students to live animals while sharpening students’ sensory and observation skills as well as supporting Tri-State academic standards. A perfect way to supplement your Zoo visit! Learn More >

CREW Programs
Guided tours are conducted through the Center for Conservation and Research of Endangered Wildlife. See scientists in action within the labs and/or surgical suite while we guide you through CREW’s ongoing projects with both plants and animals. Available for grades 6-adult. Learn More >

Green Tours
Sign up your students to learn about the Zoo’s Green Initiatives during a guided walking tour of the Zoo! Learn More >

Self-Guided Activities

These standards-based, multi-curricular activities are meant to be a la cart so teachers can choose which topics and subjects they want their students to explore on their own.
Learn More >

Animal Encounters

Get up close and personal with some of our animals around the park or learn in depth information at exhibits from our zookeepers! Schedules change seasonally.
Get the schedule >

Wild Discover Zones

Look for educators stationed throughout the Zoo at key exhibits and learn more about our zoo animals and conservation initiatives! Open seasonally from April 1st – October 31st.

Wild Discover ZoneLocationZone Theme
ReptilesEast side of Reptile HouseReptiles are a very diverse class of animals and are important to the ecosystem as both predators
and prey.
Elephant ReserveNear the exhibit pavilionElephants are a great example of a keystones species because of their ability to "bio-engineer" their habitat in ways that other plants and animals rely on to survive and thrive.
Gorilla WorldEntire exhibitConnection with wildlife can create conservation action and learning about the Cincinnati Zoo's gorilla residents can help create that connection and respect.
Manatee SpringsLocated in front of manatee habitat The Cincinnati Zoo is one of two U.S. Zoos outside of Florida that participate in the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s (USFWS) Manatee Rescue, Rehabilitation and Release Program.
Wings of the World: Migration GameAcross from Arctic Islands habitatGroups role play as a flock of migrating birds traveling from South America to Ohio. They follow a trail of bird silhouettes on the floor from start to finish and engage in challenges focused on threats migrating birds face to their survival along the way. With each challenge, guests learn how they can make life a bit easier for birds by being a better bird neighbor in specific ways.
Jungle Trails HikeStarts at Mueller Gibbon HabitatTake a 20 minute hike with a Zoo Educator through the Jungle Trails Habitat. Primates are our closest living relatives, they share many similarities with us! Due to human actions, our animal cousins are struggling in their natural habitats. However, there are steps that we can take to help protect primates and their habitats.


School groups can add on rides and 4-D theater tickets at a special discounted rate!

Rides Pass (unlimited rides!) for Train and Carousel – $4.00

*Attractions Discounts only apply when added during field trip registration. Regular prices apply if purchased once in the Zoo*

Learn More >

School Lunches

School lunches are available for purchase for your field trip. These lunches will be available for pick up at a designated location. Must purchase a minimum of 10 lunches. Register online for school lunch here.
Lunch OptionPrice
Economy School Pizza Lunch
Choose from cheese pizza or pepperoni pizza. Each person will receive one (1) slice of pizza, a small bag of chips & bottled water. The minimum number of lunches you must purchase is ten (10).
$4.00 per person
School Pizza Lunch
Choose from cheese pizza or pepperoni pizza. Each person will receive two (2) slices of pizza, a small bag of chips & bottled water. The minimum number of lunches you must purchase is ten (10).
$6.00 per person
School PB&J or Hot Dog
Choose either Uncrustable PB&J sandwiches or Hot Dogs. You may choose all PB&J, all hotdogs, or half PB&B & half hotdogs. Each person will receive one (1) sandwich, a small bag of chips and bottled water. The minimum number of lunches you must purchase is ten (10).
$5.50 per person
To purchase school lunches, register online or call 513-559-7767

Field Trip FAQs

When can we come for a field trip?

Field trips are available year-round, 7 days a week. Operating Hours for School Field Trips:

  • January 5 – March 13: 10am – 5pm
  • March 14 – May 26: 9am – 5pm
  • May 23 – September 7: 9am – 6pm
  • September 8 –  October 31: 9am – 5pm
  • November 1 – November 20: 10am-5pm
  • During Festival of Lights school admission rates are only available if schools arrive before 2pm. After 2pm schools must pay general admission rates.

When may I schedule a field trip to the Zoo?

Registration for school trips opens August 1st. You can register online anytime or call 513-559-7767 seven days a week between the hours of 9m and 5pm. You must make your reservation at least 2 weeks in advance. The earlier you schedule, the greater the availability of field trip dates. Some days in April and May sell out.

What is the cost of a field trip?

Tickets are $7 per student. For every 7 students you bring, you will receive one free adult teacher/chaperone. Any additional teachers/adults beyond this free 1 to 7 policy are also $7. The Zoo accommodates students with special needs by offering free admission for adults in the role of IEP-mandated 1:1 assistant.

Do you have any financial aid available?

The Zoo is proud to offer free field trip grants through the Living Classroom Education Access Fund. To find out more information and if you qualify, click here.  *Applications for 2019-20 school year open August 1st*

When/how do I pay for my field trip?

Payment is only accepted the day of the field trip at the Admissions Booth. This allows for last minute adjustments to your totals up to the minute you leave for your trip. We accept check, credit card, cash, or Purchase Order for total group payment. If paying with a PO, you must bring a copy of the actual PO; PO numbers will not be accepted. If paying with a credit card, we do not accept credit information over the phone, the credit card needs to be presented for payment. Over-payments less than $10 will not be refunded. Over-payments of $10 or more will be mailed by check and may take 2-3 weeks.

What if I need to reschedule/cancel my field trip?

There is no fee to reschedule or cancel your trip. Please call 513-559-7767 to let us know as soon as possible.

What's happening at the Zoo the day of my field trip?

Check the Zoo Today page for day of updates on planned habitat or concession closures or special events. Also check out the Zoo’s daily Animal Encounter & Experience schedule.

What should we do about lunch?

There are several lunch options for your field trip:

What to Eat:

  • Visitors are allowed to bring outside food into the Zoo. We strongly encourage students to pack a sack lunch and either carry it themselves or have a chaperone carry it for the group in a bag, as space to store lunches is limited to the Safari Camp Shelters and is limited to first come, first serve OR to groups that have rented a shelter space for the day. This also prevents adults from having to carry large coolers or boxes through the Zoo to the designated picnic location.
  • School Group Lunches are available to purchase in advance for groups of 10 or more, Monday-Friday. Group choices include an Economy Pizza Lunch ($4.00 per person), a School Pizza Lunch ($6.00 per person), Hot Dog Lunch ($5.50 per person), or Peanut Butter & Jelly (5.50 per person). Register for lunches online or call 513-559-7767.
  • There are general dining options around the Zoo to purchase lunch. Base Camp Cafe is open year-round. Additional concessions are open seasonally and weather-dependent. For a full list of Zoo dining options for schools, click here.

Where to eat:

  • Picnic shelters are available to use first come, first serve. Shelters are not available for rental, except for large groups with additional programs booked through our Group Sales department.  There are additional smaller picnic areas scattered throughout Zoo grounds for smaller groups to eat. For the easiest lunch experience, we encourage each school group to carry their lunches with them and sit wherever they find a spot to eat at their convenience.

Where should we park?

When you register for your field trip, you will receive a confirmation packet that includes directions and maps for parking. Buses may park for free, but any additional chaperone vehicles will be charged the Zoo parking fee of $10.00 per vehicle upon exiting the parking lot. Due to the high volume of school buses, during April, May and June all non-bus vehicles are required to park in general parking areas of the Zoo. See confirmation packet for details.

What are the Field Trip Rules & Policies for the Zoo?

    • Registration for a Cincinnati Zoo Field Trip constitutes acceptance of the terms and conditions set forth. Upon entry to the Zoo, school groups grant the Zoological Society of Cincinnati (the “Zoo”) permission to use images or media of anyone in the school group in advertising, publicity and other promotions without payment or compensation to holder. The school group voluntarily assumes all risk of personal injury (including but not limited to death) and loss of property, by accident or otherwise, incidental to attending the Zoo and using its rides, attractions and facilities, and agrees that the Zoo, its directors, officers, employees, and agents are not responsible for and shall not be liable for any such injuries or losses, no matter how caused. Entry to the Zoo evidences a revocable license to enter the Zoo’s property, and this license may be revoked (and the holders ejected from the Zoo’s property) at the sole discretion of the Zoo, without refund, if misused or if the holder fails to abide by the policies, rules or regulations of the Zoo. Such policies, among other things, prohibit the possession and/or use of controlled substances and intoxicants on Zoo property. Park hours, prices, policies, and programs are all subject to change without notice.
    • One chaperone per seven students is required. Students in grades PreK-12 must be supervised by their chaperone at all times. Unsupervised groups may be detained by Zoo staff or security until their chaperone is located.
    • All school groups must respect Zoo animals and property. Climbing on rails or fences, littering, picking plants or flowers, tapping on windows, screaming at exhibit animals, unauthorized feeding of exhibit animals, chasing free-roaming peacocks, ducks, chickens, or geese are all grounds for dismissal from Zoo grounds without a refund.
    • Cincinnati Zoo Memberships may not be used for school group entry or rides and attractions. The revenue generated from Field Trips helps to keep student admission rates low for all schools visiting the Zoo and allows us to offer world-class programming at no additional cost. Any chaperone attempting to use a membership will kindly be asked to purchase a chaperone ticket from a ticketing window.