Getting Ready…

Plan Your Exploration

Rhino wallowing, kangaroos hopping, eagles soaring, penguin swimming, ants crawling, carousel turning, train whistling blowing, kids learning… A day at the Cincinnati Zoo can be an exhaustively fun time. To help you make the most of your day at the Zoo, we’ve provided resources to help you plan out your day.

  • Use the Zoo Map to get an overview of parking lots, entrances, animal habitats, bathrooms, lunch locations, and program spaces.
  • Read our Field Trip FAQs at the bottom of this page.
  • Zoo Hours: Zoo opens for schools at 9:00am from mid-March through October 31 and opens at 10:00am from November 1 through mid-March. Zoo closes at 5:00pm.
    • Schools wishing to come to Festival of Lights from 2:00-9:00pm must book through Group Sales.
  • Check out what’s happening throughout the Zoo with the Daily Zoo News and Animal Encounters & Experiences Calendar.
  • Check out the Zoo Access for All page for information about accessibility, social narratives, sensory maps, calming room information, service animal information, and more.
  • Decide on Self-Guided Activities to use during your field trip or register for a Close Encounter.
  • Parking: All buses, vans and cars will park in the main Vine Street parking lot at 3400 Vine Street.
    • Please share this address with your bus driver and chaperones as parking locations have changed from past years.
    • Due to heavy construction around and within the Zoo, parking for buses and cars will be limited in the spring. All registered schools will receive more information in regards to parking closer to their field trip date. We highly encourage all chaperones driving cars to carpool, and for school buses to drop off students and come back for afternoon pick-up rather than park. Please ensure to share parking information with drivers once received.
  • Eating at the Zoo
    • 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.
    • We recommend students carry their lunches in a backpack. Backpacks and water bottles should be marked with their name, a contact phone number, and school name so they can be reunited if lost.
    • School lunches are available to purchase for groups of 10 or more, Monday-Friday, year-round. Learn More >
    • Kiosks and dining options are available. See the Daily Zoo News for open locations.
    • Picnic shelters are unavailable due to construction of the new Elephant Trek exhibit area.
  • Masks are optional for vaccinated guests. Masks are required for all guests during human-animal interactions (Close Encoutners,giraffe feeding, and goat yard).

Prepare Your Students

There is so much for students to take in during a Cincinnati Zoo Field Trip. Go over your expectations and the day’s schedule in advance. Remind them to wear comfortable walking shoes and weather appropriate clothing and to bring their packed lunch and reusable water bottle.

  • Check out the Zoo Access for All page for information about accessibility, social narratives, sensory maps, calming room information, service animal information, and more.
  • We recommend students carry their lunches in a backpack. Backpacks and water bottles should be marked with their name, a contact phone number, and school name so they can be reunited if lost.

Prepare the Chaperones

To ensure proper supervision of students, the Zoo requires 1 adult (teacher or chaperone) for every 7 students. These required adults are free. Schools may bring additional adults on a field trip, with these additional adults receiving the student admission rate. Students in grades PreK-12 must be supervised by their chaperone at all times.

Zoo Members: All adults must be registered as part of the group to receive this discount. We ask all Zoo members to be included in the group total, and pay the school admission rate. This is listed as an exemption on their membership. Memberships are always valid for parking.

Share with your chaperones your educational goals and expectations for the field trip. Chaperones can be great teachers with hidden knowledge and skills.

  • Fill out and share the Chaperone Guide with all staff/chaperones who will be accompanying the field trip.
  • Chaperones driving their own vehicle will have to pay a $10 parking fee. If Zoo Members, they may use their membership to receive free parking.
  • Remind chaperones they must stay with their students at all times.
  • Masks are optional for vaccinated guests. Masks are required for all guests during human-animal interactions (Close Encounters, giraffe feeding, and goat yard).

Payment

Final numbers and payment is not due until you check-in on the day of your field trip. When the school arrives at the Zoo, the lead teacher should take a final count of the students and adults (staff and chaperones) and go to the ticketing window. The ticketing staff will give the final total due.

  • Payment can be paid via check, credit card, purchase order, or cash.
  • Receipt will be printed and given to the lead teacher.
  • If using a purchase order, a copy must be given to the ticketing staff. A bill will be sent to the billing contact on the purchase order based on the number of students and adults that visited.
    • To ensure smooth entry, purchase orders should be for the maximum number of students and adults that may be expected visit. We will only bill for the number of students and adults that visit.

Stay in Touch

Sign up for our monthly Teacher Newsletter.
Join our Teacher Facebook group, for up-to-date information on wildlife education.

At the Zoo…

Arrival and Parking

summer 2021 zoo map
Click for printable map

The Zoo opens for schools at 9:00am.

The following is subject to change due to the changing nature of construction around the Zoo.

  • Due to heavy construction around and within the Zoo, parking for buses and cars will be limited in the spring.
  • All registered schools will receive more information in regards to parking closer to their field trip date.
  • We highly encourage all chaperones driving cars to carpool.
  • We highly encourage all school buses to drop off students and come back for afternoon pick-up rather than park. Please ensure to share parking information with drivers once received.
  • Parking staff may direct your bus to park in another location if the Zoo is busy and the parking lot fills. Make note of where the bus will park so you can meet at the end of the day.
    • Car parking is $10 per vehicle. Zoo members may use their membership to receive free parking.
  • Please have a count of your student total and adult total ready.
summer 2021 zoo map
Click for printable map

The Zoo opens for schools at 9:00am mid-March to October 31. The Zoo opens for schools at 10:00am from November 1 to Mid-March.

  • Buses and Cars will arrive in Vine Street parking lot. If the Vine Street parking lot is full, chaperones may have to park in an auxiliary parking lot.
    • Car parking is $10 per vehicle. Zoo members may use their membership to receive free parking.
summer 2021 zoo map
Click for printable map

The Zoo opens for schools at 9:00am mid-March to October 31. The Zoo opens for schools at 10:00am from November 1 to Mid-March.

  • Buses and Cars will arrive in Vine Street parking lot. If the Vine Street parking lot is full, chaperones may have to park in an auxiliary parking lot.
  • Parking staff may direct your bus to park in another location if the Zoo is busy and the parking lot fills. Make note of where the bus will park so you can meet at the end of the day.
    • Car parking is $10 per vehicle. Zoo members may use their membership to receive free parking.
  • Please have a count of your student total and adult total ready.

Payment

Payment is only accepted the day of the field trip at the Ticketing Window. This allows for last minute adjustments to your totals up to the minute you leave for your trip.

When the school arrives at the Zoo, the lead teacher should take a final count of the students and adults (staff and chaperones) and go to the ticketing window. The ticketing staff will give the final total due.

  • Payment can be paid via check, credit card, purchase order, or cash.
  • Receipt will be printed and given to the lead teacher.
  • If using a purchase order, a copy must be given to the ticketing staff. A bill will be sent to the billing contact on the purchase order based on the number of students and adults that visited.
    • To ensure smooth entry, purchase orders should be for the maximum number of students and adults that may be expected to visit. We will only bill for the number of students and adults that visit.
  • 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.

In the Zoo

Be flexible. It’s great to have a plan for the day, but we are comprised of living animals that can be unpredictable. Be sure to thoroughly look all over the exhibit before moving on. You may also find our Zoo Volunteer Educators by exhibits. Our Volunteers are full of interesting information about our animals and their exhibits.

  • Use the Zoo Map to get an overview of parking lots, entrances, animal habitats, bathrooms, lunch locations, and program spaces.
  • Have your students complete Self-Guided Activities during your field trip.
  • Check out what’s happening throughout the Zoo with the Daily Zoo News and Animal Encounters & Experiences Calendar.
  • Students in grades PreK-12 must be supervised by their chaperone at all times.
  • Masks are optional for vaccinated guests. Masks are required for all guests during human-animal interactions (giraffe feeding, goat yard, and Galapagos tortoise interaction).

Eating at the Zoo

  • 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.
  • School lunches are available to purchase for groups of 10 or more, Monday-Friday, year-round. Learn More >
  • Kiosks and dining options are available. See the Daily Zoo News for open locations.
  • Picnic shelters are unavailable due to construction of the new Elephant Trek exhibit area.

Close Encounters

No stuffy lectures here, these FREE programs introduce students to live animals while sharpening students’ sensory and observation skills as well as supporting Tri-State academic standards.

All Close Encounter programs must be pre-registered and confirmed at least two weeks in advance. Want to book a Close Encounter? Contact us at [email protected].

Already Booked a Close Encounter?

  • Masks are required for all Close Encounter participants.
  • During the Close Encounters, students will meet and touch 1-2 members of our diverse and unique animal ambassador community. Experienced Zoo educators will lead the group through lessons that introduce or reinforce science concepts aligned with Tri-State academic standards.
  • If any students in your group require special accommodations, please notify our registration team and touch base with your instructor the day of your program. Click here for more information about the Cincinnati Zoo’s Access for All initiative.
  • Please arrive at your program location approximately 5-10minutes before program start time.
  • Program Locations (please see confirmation for program size)
    • Small/Classroom Program – Harold C Schott Education Building
    • Large/Assembly Program – The Clubhouse @ the Train Station
    • Check out our Program Location Map.

REMINDER: By signing up for this program you are committing to attending it. Should something interfere with your ability to keep this commitment, please notify us as soon as possible by calling 513-559-7767. Zoo staff will be waiting for you with animals that have been specifically reserved and brought to the program for you. Out of respect for the time and effort our staff and animals put into this program, please arrive on time.

CREW Building Tours

The Lindner Center for Conservation and Research of Endangered Wildlife’s (CREW) world-renowned scientists form critical partnerships with other leading conservationists and governmental and non-governmental organizations to achieve CREW’s mission to Save Species with Science®.

The CREW Building Tour introduces students to the conservation research science that goes on at the Zoo everyday.

All CREW Building Tours must be pre-registered and confirmed at least two weeks in advance. Want to book a CREW Building Tour? Contact us at [email protected].

Already booked a CREW Building Tour?

  • During the CREW Building Tour, students will get to tour the CREW facility led by one of our experienced CREW volunteers. Students will get to see work areas where active conservation research occurs.
  • If any students in your group require special accommodations, please notify our registration team and touch base with your instructor the day of your program. Click here for more information about the Cincinnati Zoo’s Access for All initiative.
  • Please arrive at your program location approximately 5-10minutes before program start time.
  • Due to limited indoor space, groups are limited to 15 people.
  • Program Meet-Up
    • Please meet your Tour leader outside the World of the Insect building.
    • Check out our Program Location Map.

REMINDER: By signing up for this program you are committing to attending it. Should something interfere with your ability to keep this commitment, please notify us as soon as possible by calling 513-559-7767. Out of respect for the time and effort our staff and volunteers put into this program, please arrive on time.

Lunch

Dining Options

  • Bring your own lunches. 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. Space to store lunches is limited  and is first come, first serve OR reserved for groups that have rented a shelter space for the day.
  • Purchase Lunch Individually. There are general dining options around the Zoo to purchase lunch. Base Camp Café is open year-round. Additional concessions are located throughout the park but are open seasonally and weather-dependent. Note: Lines may be long during our busy season. There is plenty of seating at all dining locations, open or closed.
  • Purchase Lunch through the Zoo. We have a convenient lunch program for children and adults. This great option will save you the exhausting and time-consuming hassles of packing, hauling, and sorting out lunches. Let the Zoo do the work for you! School lunches are available to purchase for groups of 10 or more, Monday-Friday, year-round. Lunches must be booked at least 2 weeks in advance. Contact us at [email protected] to add school lunches to your field trip. Learn More >

Where to eat

  • Throughout the Zoo. There are small 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.
  • Picnic Shelters. Picnic shelters can be reserved for large groups through December 2021 for a fee of $75. Click here to request a Picnic Shelter.  After December 2021, picnic shelters will not be available due to construction.

Already Booked a School Lunch through the Zoo?

  • Confirmation: You will receive a separate confirmation from our catering team once your order is confirmed. At that time, orders can be increased only.
  • Two business days prior to your visit, please confirm the total number of lunches using the contact information provided by the catering team.
  • Pick up Location: Sweet Retreat in the Grove by Safari Camp. Once the first member of your group arrives, we’ll hand the food & beverages over to you and your chaperones to take it from there.
  • Pick up Times: 10:30 am, 11:00 am or 11:30 am (please check your Confirmation and Invoice for the time you have selected)
School Lunch Cancellation Policy
  • Notice is required two business days before you field trip date to reschedule or cancel your lunch order. Otherwise, your school will be responsible for full payment.
  • These charges may be avoided by rescheduling your event to date within the current calendar year.

Leaving the Zoo

Everyone may need a restroom break before leaving. Restrooms are located at Vine Street Village, Basecamp Café, Children’s Zoo Playground, and Mai Thai’s Market.

Buses Staying at the Zoo: Buses may park in the Vine Street lot. However, if the Zoo is busy and the parking lot fills, parking staff will direct your bus to park in another location. Make note of where the bus will park so you can meet at the end of the day.

Buses Not Parking at the Zoo: Buses that are not parking can drop-off and pick-up student in the Vine Street parking lot (3327 Vine Street). If the Vine Street parking lot is closed, buses may use the Metro Bus pull through at Vine Street & Louis Ave (Metro Bus Stop 5357, approx 3335 Vine Street)

Resources

FAQs and Zoo Policies

What are the current safety policies due to Covid-19?

Are masks required? Masks are optional for vaccinated guests. Masks are required for all guests during human-animal interactions (giraffe feeding, goat yard, and Galapagos tortoise interaction) Let’s stay safe and healthy. Masks On!

Can we stay in our large group? We encourage all groups to split up into smaller groups of 10 people or less. Each group must have an adult accompanying them. Students are not allowed to visit unaccompanied.

All of our safety policies and procedure can be found on our website. Please take time to look over and encourage all chaperones to read.

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 – 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 or book through Group Sales.

When may I schedule a field trip to the Zoo?

Registration for school trips opens August 1st of each year for the coming school year. You can register online anytime or call 513-559-7767 Monday-Friday between the hours of 10m and 5pm. We encourage you to 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 2020-21 school year open now. Applications for 2021-22 school year open August 1, 2021.

When/how do I pay for my field trip?

Payment is only accepted the day of the field trip at the Ticketing Window. 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 only will not be accepted.

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 Daily Zoo News 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

Where 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.
  • Picnic shelters are currently unavailable.
  • School may bring coolers. However, picnic shelters are unavailable, so coolers may be left on the bus and teachers/chaperones may exit and renter the Zoo.

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 and marked vans 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.

Field Trip Terms & Conditions

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.

Reminders

     

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