PNC Festival of Lights

PNC Festival of Lights

Zoo Access for All Tips for PNC Festival of LightsGoing to PNC Festival of Lights Social Narrative

Sensory-Friendly Santa Pilot Experience

The Cincinnati Zoo and Cincinnati Children’s Hospital are partnering with Santa Claus to provide a sensory-friendly meet and greet for our visitors with sensory sensitivities and/or developmental disabilities.

From Sun Dec 1 – Friday Dec 6, 1pm-3pm, Santa will be arriving at the Zoo early to meet families who may not be able to visit Santa in the festival environment.

Visitors can reserve 10-minute experiences for their families to meet Santa and have pictures taken by our professional Kaman’s Photo team. Here are the details:

  • Reserved times help families avoid standing in a line while waiting
  • Holiday music volume will be lowered and bright lights will be dimmed/off, and only one family will have access to the room at a time to avoid additional distraction or stimulation.
  • A moveable chair will be placed next to Santa for those who do not wish to sit on Santa’s lap.
  • Santa is receiving training from Dr. Jen Smith for tips and information on interacting with kids with different abilities
  • Families can visit Santa and Zoo before the Festival of Lights crowds arrive, and before it’s dark (for those with holiday light sensitivities)
To reserve a time for your family, please click here!

SNAP/EBT Program

SNAP/EBT

Show your food assistance card – SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) – to receive discounted tickets or a Membership through the Zoo Access for All program. You must have a valid SNAP card and photo ID to purchase tickets or apply for a membership. (Limit of 8 tickets purchased per visit with SNAP card.)

General Admission Ticket Prices

Adults (13-61) – $6

Child/Senior (2-12 or 62+) – $3

Parking – $1

Membership Pricing

Family Standard Membership – $40

SNAP cards from any state accepted. This is the only membership offered through this program. Discount cannot be applied to previously purchased memberships. Membership can be purchased at Zoo, and are not available by phone or online. E-mail [email protected] if you have additional questions.

As the #1 family attraction in Cincinnati, we are excited to expand upon our already offered Living Classroom Education Access Fund to provide similar experiences to families and individuals and we are dedicated to making the Zoo more accessible to low-income, at-risk and/or underserved children and families.

Developmental Disabilities, Sensory Sensitivities & Autism

Developmental Disabilities, Sensory Sensitivities & Autism

The Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden, in partnership with Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center (CCHMC), has been working to become the most welcoming, accessible, and inclusive Zoo for individuals with developmental disabilities and their families. The Zoo has made great progress toward this goal since the effort, funded by a grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS), began in 2017.

The Zoo offers the following resources on grounds:

  • adult changing tables
  • sensory maps
  • sensory friendly restrooms (manual flush and no hand dryers)
  • Zoo adventure planning map & Zoo adventure planning choices
  • a rides access pass
  • Blakely’s Barnyard Bonanza Social Narrative
  • Cheetah Encounter Social Narrative
  • Going to the Zoo Social Narrative
  • Zoo Visual Supports and Rules
  • sensory bags filled with oral motor chewy tubes, fidgets, bubble makers, noise-cancelling headphones, sunglasses, etc.
  • Sensory Gardens in quieter spaces to allow for resting and interacting with plants
  • A calming room and another family restroom that is sensory-friendly will be ready in Fall 2019.
  • Adventure Ropes course that will have ADA accessible components – Spring/Summer 2020
  • May We Help sensory chair in Education Lobby

All of the above maps, planning choices, social narratives, and visual supports are also available online prior to your visit.

Many Cincinnati Zoo staff members have also received training provided by the LEND (Leadership Education in Neurodevelopmental and related Disabilities) professionals at Children’s Hospital on how to welcome and support visitors with developmental disabilities. Staff members who have received training have a blue Zoo Access for All logo on their ID badge.

Dietary & Medicinal Needs

Dietary & Medicinal Needs

Visitors can bring their own food, beverages, and coolers into the Zoo. Glass and outside alcohol are prohibited.

Some dining options may not be open during your visit. Information on what to expect can be found at http://cincinnatizoo.org/zoo-today/ on the morning of your visit. Base Camp Café is open every day and offers options like chicken tenders, pizza, salads, and burgers. All dining options, menu information and allergen information can be found on the Zoo website at http://cincinnatizoo.org/plan-your-visit/shopping-dining/. While our food team is as careful as possible when alerted to allergy needs, there is a possibility of cross-contamination and most of the processing plants we use also process common allergens.

Cups of water are available at any open dining location free of charge. Water fountains are available around the Zoo (off during the winter season).

The Zoo is unable to provide refrigeration for any items that need to be kept cool. The Visitor Experience team may be able to store medical equipment or a cooler for medical needs on a case-by-case basis.

We welcome visitors to administer medicine or tend to medical needs where they feel comfortable in the park. We have many quieter places off the main path, benches, and family restrooms to utilize. The family restrooms in the Vine Street Village are equipped with adult-size changing tables.

For more information about storing medical items or places to comfortably administer these items, please visit the Welcome Center upon arrival, or email [email protected] at least (2) days prior to your visit to coordinate.

Service Animals

Service Animals

The Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden is committed to welcoming all visitors and complies with the ADA Title III regulations regarding service animals. Therapy or emotional support animals are not permitted in the Zoo. If your animal does not meet the ADA requirements for entry, we will gladly provide information on local kennels where your dog can stay during your Zoo visit.

Upon entry, service animal users will be greeted by a Visitor Experience Supervisor to be checked in with the two legal ADA questions regarding service animals. Members are encouraged to get a notation on their membership card to expedite entry during future visits. All visitors will receive a Service Animal Map upon entry.

While your service animal has been socialized for most public settings, touring a zoo – especially for the first time – can be an unusual experience. Some areas of the Zoo have been observed to be dangerous or stressful to either Zoo animals or service animals. The Zoo has worked with local service dog training organization, Circle Tail, Inc., to identify sensitive and restricted areas of the Zoo with trained and in training service dogs.

Areas designated as ‘Restricted’ are indicated on the Service Animal Map and listed below. Because we are subject to strict regulations regarding the protection and wellbeing of our Zoo animals, service animals are restricted from the following areas. To access these areas without a service animal, please contact a Visitor Experience Supervisor at (513) 475-6198:

  • Goat Yard, Galapagos Tortoise Yard, Free-Flight Aviary, Butterfly Aviary, and Behind-the-Scenes Tours: direct contact between service animals and Zoo animals poses risk for zoonotic disease transmission.
  • Wings of Wonder Bird Experience (Memorial Day-Labor Day): free-flight birds have become distracted from their behaviors in the presence of service animals, which can lead to safety concerns for Zoo animals and keepers.
  • Wolf Woods: wolves have displayed stress behaviors in the presence of service animals.
  • Jungle Trails: primates have displayed stress behaviors in the presence of service animals.
  • Gorilla World: primates have displayed stress behaviors in the presence of service animals.
  • Cheetah Encounter: cheetahs, domestic cats, and domestic dogs have become distracted from their behaviors in the presence of service animals, which can lead to safety concerns for Zoo animals and keepers.

Areas designated as ‘Sensitive’ are indicated on the Service Animal Map and listed below. In these areas, we ask service animal owners to be observant of their animal’s behavior and the behaviors of Zoo animals, and adjust their viewing accordingly for the wellbeing of all animals:

  • Night Hunters
  • Cat Canyon
  • African Lions
  • Wings of the World
  • Meerkats
  • Blakely’s Barnyard Bonanza

The Zoo reserves the right to designate areas as restricted or sensitive without prior notice if a service animal’s presence is demonstrated (through prior or current situations) to cause a Zoo animal undue stress or anxiety, or as a result of new births, breeding behavior, or new animals in habitats.

For the health and safety of our visitors, staff, Zoo animals, and visiting service animals:

  • Service animals must be harnessed, leashed, or tethered or controlled by voice commands.
  • Service animals are expected to stay off rock barriers, keep all paws on the ground at Zoo habitats, and not bark at Zoo animals.
  • Service animals should be kept at least 10-feet away from Zoo animals presented with interpreters or walking outside of habitat space. Direct contact between Zoo animals and service animals is prohibited.
  • Care and supervision of service animals is the sole responsibility of the owner.
  • Per the ADA, service animals may be excluded if their presence alters the nature of the Zoo’s services or if the animal is out of the owner’s control. If a service animal is excluded, the owner will be able to visit without the service animal.

For more information or assistance, please call a Visitor Experience Supervisor at (513) 475-6198, or email [email protected]

Mobility Needs

Mobility Needs

The Zoo has both strollers and wheelchairs for rent at the Welcome Center, located in Historic Vine Street Village, or at the Conservation Carousel in Safari Camp. We have a limited inventory and provide these items on a first-come, first-served basis.

Please click here to reserve an ECV.

Single Strollers – $10 ($9 for members) – 60 lbs. maximum

Double Strollers – $14 ($13 for members) – 100 lbs. maximum

Standard Manual Wheelchair – $10 – 350 lbs. maximum

Electric Convenience Vehicle (ECV) – $30 ($40 with a canopy) – 450 lbs. maximum (Click here to reserve one for your visit!)

There are no advance registrations for strollers or manual wheelchairs, however there are a limited number of ECVs that can be reserved for each day – please visit our website to reserve an ECV in advance. Reservations may not be made on the day of your visit. We recommend arriving early to secure strollers and manual wheelchairs. For all rentals, a photo ID must be left with Zoo Staff at the rental location.

The Cincinnati Zoo is one of the oldest zoos in the nation and was built on a hill. Please be advised that the Zoo has many inclines. There are many benches and rest areas around the Zoo, and employees can guide you to less-steep paths.

Due to the side of paths, and varying volume of pedestrian traffic, the Cincinnati Zoo cannot permit the use of larger or oversized OPDMDs (other power-driven mobility devices), including golf carts and ATVs. Electric scooter rentals (like Bird or Lime scooters) are not permitted in the Zoo.

Visitors using a Segway for a disability are permitted to use the device at the Zoo. Segway speed should not exceed pedestrian traffic (approximately 5 mph), and are restrict from animal encounter areas, such as Galapagos Yard, Goat Yard, and Free-Flight Aviary. Segways should be parked in stroller parking areas when not in use.

For more information about mobility and permittable OPDMDs, please email Alyssa O’Connell at [email protected].

Tactile Elements

Tactile Elements

These elements allow for tactile learning, or opportunities for the blind and visually impaired. Tactile elements around the Zoo include:

Elephant House – Baby elephant statue outside of Elephant House

Africa – Lions statue near flamingos, painted dog ears, dung beetle by painted dogs, hippo statues in the ground

Wings of Wonder – metal birds that make their birdcall when you touch them

Wolf Woods – otter paws

Children’s Zoo – Joe Spaulding statue with frog, doe, raccoon and tortoise

Lords of the Artic – artistic polar bear statue

Jungle Trails – artistic lion statues near golden-headed lion tamarins, snake on the floor near sifakas

Reptile – Galapagos tortoise statue

Cat Canyon – tiger silhouette statue by tiger habitat

Gorilla World – gorilla statue on the main path, gorilla hand and foot steel casts

Passenger Pigeon Memorial – pigeon statue on the main path

Manatee Springs – manatee statue on main path, crocodile front and back feet iron casts, large crocodile statue inside

Animal Touch Areas – Goat yard (seasonally), Galapagoes tortoise yard (seasonally), Wild Encounters interpreters can be found around the park for random animal encounters.

Some items require a step off the path to touch them—please step carefully and return to the path when you are finished.

Web Accessibility

Web Accessibility

As a part of the Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden’s Access for All program, we are committed to inspiring every visitor with wildlife every day, and we believe everyone should have the opportunity to experience and cultivate a positive connection to wildlife and wild places. We seek to include all members of our community regardless of economic status or other limiting factors. This includes our commitment to facilitating the accessibility and usability of our website, for all people.

We are working on the web accessibility standards as outlined by the World Wide Web Consortium’s Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.0 Level AA (WCAG 2.0 AA). While our efforts are ongoing, if you do encounter an accessibility issue, please let us know and be sure to specify the web page in your email to [email protected].

English as a Second Language

English As A Second Language

The Cincinnati Zoo website can be translated into several languages other than English. Click the drop-down menu in the top right corner to select your language. If English isn’t your primary language and you need some assistance in the park, please look for languages our employees speak on their badges.

First Aid & Emergencies

First Aid & Emergencies

Our Security team is prepared to respond in all emergency situations, from small bandages and bee stings to major medical emergencies.

In case of an emergency while at the Zoo, please alert an employee or call (513) 475-6112. Security has quick access to first responders, CFD, CPD, and ambulances – we ask that you call Zoo Security before calling 911.

In an animal-related, weather-related, or visitor-related emergency, Security will use intercom to inform and assist visitors.

Caregiver Information

Caregiver Information

If a caregiver is required to assist a visitor during their Zoo visit, one caregiver can receive a FREE admission ticket. The caregiver needs to identify that they are a caregiver at the ticket window to receive free admission. The visitor requiring a caregiver, and any additional caregivers, will need to purchase an admission ticket to enter the Zoo.

Parking

Parking

The Zoo has several parking lots available to visitors, including:

  • Vine Lot (Lot A) on Vine St. – with 26 handicap/accessible parking spots
    • Visitors with handicap placards will always be allowed to park in Vine Lot, even if the lot is full for other incoming traffic. Please have your placard visible to attendants when entering Vine Lot.
  • South Lot (Lot B) on Vine St & Louis Ave. – with 8 handicap/accessible parking spots
  • Corner Lot (Lot C) on Vine St & Erkenbrecher Ave. – with 0 handicap/accessible parking spots
    • Please navigate to Vine Lot for accessible parking.
  • Dury Lot (Lot D) on Dury Ave. and Rockdale Ave. – with 0 handicap/accessible parking spots
    • Please navigate to Vine Lot for accessible parking.
  • Safar Lot (Gate 4) on Dury Ave. – with 12 handicap/accessible parking spots

If you plan to rent a wheelchair and need it to enter the Zoo, please alert a parking employee and they will assist you with retrieving one (availability of wheelchairs varies).

Parking can be hectic on busy days (holiday breaks, weekends, nice weather). We recommend arriving before 11am or after 2pm to avoid most traffic difficulties. Parking is on a first-come, first-served basis, and we sometimes run out of parking spots.

Restrooms

Restrooms

All Zoo visitor restrooms are equipped with at least 1 accessible stall and 1 baby changing table. Restrooms at the Zoo can be found in:

  • Vine Street Village
    • 2 family restrooms that are sensory-friendly and have 2 adult-size changing tables
  • 4D Theater in Safari Camp
    • 1 family restroom that is sensory-friendly
  • La Rosa’s near Lords of the Artic
    • 1 family restroom that are sensory-friendly & a baby changing table
  • Children’s Zoo
  • Education Center

Our 4 family restrooms around the Zoo (Vine Street Village, 4D Theater, La Rosa’s) have been modified to be sensory-friendly. This includes manual flush toilets instead of automatic flush, and paper towels instead of hand dryers. The 2 family restrooms in Vine Street Village are also equipped with adult-size changing tables that are 31” off the ground, and can accommodate up to 400 lbs.

Visitors who are non-binary or prefer not to use a gendered bathroom are welcome to use the single-room family restrooms around the Zoo.

Ride Accessibility

Ride Accessibility

The Cincinnati Zoo has a train and carousel for visitors’ enjoyment. Hours of operation vary seasonally and for maintenance; please check the website for current hours.

The Safari Train takes visitors on a journey around the inner loop of the Zoo with the ability to see habitats from a unique vantage-point. The train ride starts at the Train Station, across from Base Camp Café, and takes a single loop around the Zoo, ending in the same place. The seating benches are 45” wide, and are 28” deep from the backrest-to-backrest. Boarding the train requires visitors to step up 18” and to clear a 14”w x 51”h entry into the car. Guests under 42 inches in height must be accompanied by a responsible adult.  Train tickets cost $4 per rider.

The Safari Train has an accessible train car that can accommodate 2 wheelchairs at a time. To use the accessible train car, speak to an employee who will assist you in boarding the car up a ramp and securing the wheelchair using wheel locks.

The Conservation Carousel, located in Safari Camp, allows visitors to ride different animals moving up and down around the carousel for several minutes. Each animal requires visitors to step up or be lifted to a maximum 22” and swing their leg over to the other side of the animal. There are 3 benches to sit on. 2 carousel animals, the giraffe and camel, do not go up and down. Guests under 42 inches in height must be accompanied by a responsible adult. All riders must wear a seatbelt during the ride. Carousel tickets cost $3 per rider.

The Conservation Carousel can accommodate 1 wheelchair at a time. To ride the carousel in a wheelchair, speak to an employee who will assist you in boarding the car up a ramp and securing the wheelchair using wheel locks.

The Rides Access Pass is available for visitors who may have significant trouble standing in line at the train or carousel, by having them wait the same length of time as the line but outside of the traditional line. To use a Rides Access Pass, ask an employee at the train, carousel or Welcome Center for a pass: they will calculate the wait time and give you a lanyard with the time you are allowed to ride. At or after your time has passed, bring the lanyard to the employee at the ride, who will take it and allow you onto the next ride through a separate entrance.

Contact Us

Contact Us

For specific questions regarding accessibility, email the Program Coordinator for Zoo Access for All, Alyssa O’Connell, at [email protected]. Please allow (2) days for response, as Alyssa works part-time.

For general questions or immediate needs, please call the Visitor Experience Team at (513) 475-6198 or email at [email protected].

For Security needs or concerns, please call (513) 475-6112.

For more information, please visit our website at www.cincinnatizoo.org.

Thanks to these partners for supporting the Zoo Access for All program:
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