Field Trip Overview

The Basics

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.

  • Zoo Map to get an overview of parking lots, entrances, animal habitats, bathrooms, lunch locations, and program spaces.
  • Zoo Hours
    • March 14-October 31: 9:00am-5:00pm
    • November 1 – March 13: 10:00am-5:00pm
    • Schools wishing to come to Festival of Lights from 2:00-9:00pm must book through Group Sales.
  • Parking (*updated 5/25/22)
    • Due to ongoing construction, parking is subject to change. All schools will be notified by email of any parking changes.
    • Buses and marked vehicles are free. Cars are $10.
      • Zoo memberships may be used to receive free parking.
  • Lunch
    • Seating is available at any of our outdoors locations (Vine Street Village, Basecamp Café deck, The Grove), as well as various tables and benches through out the zoo.
    • Picnic shelters are available this summer. Shelters are first come, first serve. Please do not use shelters that are reserved for group events.
    • 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 located at the Vine Street Village. Storage is limited and is first come, first serve.
    • 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 >
    • 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.
  • Activities and Programs
    • 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.
    • 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.
    • CREW 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®. CREW Tours must be pre-registered.
    • Keeper Chats, Encounters, Experiences: Check out what’s happening throughout the Zoo with the Daily Zoo News and Animal Encounters and 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.
  • Masks are only required for Close Encounter and CREW Tours.

Prepare Your Chaperones

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.
  • Supervision
    • The Zoo requires 1 adult (teacher or chaperone) for every 7 students from PreK-12th grade. These required adults are free.
    • Remind chaperones they must stay with their students at all times.
  • Zoo Memberships
    • Zoo Memberships can only be used for parking. Memberships cannot be used for student/adult entry or rides. This is listed as an exemption on their membership.
  • Parking and Zoo Entry
    • Chaperones are encouraged to ride the bus with their group. Adults driving separately in cars will park in the main lot at 3400 Vine St, unless otherwise directed.
    • Chaperones parking in main Vine lot should cross over the bridge at meet their group at the turnstiles.

Parking (*updated 5/25/22)

Click here for April-June parking map

Due to ongoing construction, parking is subject to change. We will notify all schools via email to any changes to parking.

  • May 25-June: Buses/Cars: 3400 Vine St (*updated 5/25/22)
  • Buses and marked vehicles are free. Cars are $10.
    • Zoo memberships may be used to receive free parking.
  • Click here for July-March parking map

    Bus parking (mini, mid-size, full-size, charter): will park in the main Vine Street parking lot at 3400 Vine Street.

  • Bus drop-off: will drop-off in the main Vine Street parking lot at 3400 Vine Street.
  • Vans, Cars: will park in the main Vine Street parking lot at 3400 Vine Street.
    • Chaperones parking in main Vine lot should cross over the bridge at meet their group at the turnstiles.

Due to heavy construction around and within the Zoo, parking for buses and cars will be limited in the spring. On busy days, buses and cars may be directed to overflow lots. Please follow road signs and staff directions.

Payment

Final numbers and payment are 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.

  • Groups may enter the zoo while the lead teacher is checking in.
  • 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.

Checks should be made payable to: Cincinnati Zoo, 3400 Vine Street, Cincinnati, OH 45220

Rescheduling & Cancelling

There is no fee to reschedule or cancel your trip. Please call 513-559-7730 or email [email protected] to let us know as soon as possible.

Rescheduling

We can move most schools from one dates to another. Please note that due to high school numbers in May, dates may be limited. Rescheduling Close Encounter and CREW Tours may be difficult due to limited availability.

Cancelling 

Send us an email with the name of your school, teacher name, and confirmation number and we can cancel your field trip.

Stay in Touch

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

More Details

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.
    Sign for meeting point- text reads Close Encoutner. Meet Here. Preregistered groups only.
    Look for this sign at your meeting point.
  • 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 513-559-7730. 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?

  • Masks are required for all participants during the CREW Building Tour.
    Sign for meeting point- text reads CREW Program. Meet Here. Preregistered groups only.
    Look for this sign at your meeting point.
  • 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 513-559-7730. 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 are available this summer. Shelters are first come, first serve. Please do not use shelters that are reserved for group events.

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. 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 or Erkenbrecher lot.  Make note of where the bus will park so you can meet at the end of the day.

Buses Dropping-Off:

  • July-March: Buses that are not parking can drop-off and pick-up student in the Vine Street parking lot (3327 Vine Street).
  • April-June: Buses that are not parking can drop-off and pick-up student on Euclid Ave (enter at 35 Erkenbrecher Ave). If the 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

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 513-559-7730 Monday-Friday between the hours of 10am 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 2022-23 open in August.

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 513-559-7730 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.

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.

CALL OR EMAIL: 513-559-7730 OR [email protected]

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