We seek to include all members of our community regardless of economic status or other limiting factors.
The Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden’s Zoo Access for All program is designed to encourage families and individuals of all backgrounds to visit our world-class organization to build lifelong and multi-generational memories. 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.
Please see below for our many resources, policies, and tips to make your Zoo visit as fun and comfortable as possible. (Updated 5/3/2023)
The Zoo Offers:
- Calm spaces throughout the Zoo (6 total, including the Vine Street Village Calming Room)
- Kanga’ Klimb Ropes course with ADA-accessible components
- Financial assistance for schools through the Living Classroom Education Access Fund
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.
Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden CELEBRATES the diversity of our plants & animals, staff, visitors, and community. We believe the Zoo should be a place where everyone can be themselves. We strive for the Zoo to be a place where differences are recognized, welcomed, and celebrated through our culture, processes, programs, and very presence in the community.
We ACKNOWLEDGE that inequity is an issue we must confront and address. We recognize that some communities face barriers that limit engagement with the Zoo and our mission. We are working to understand these barriers and take actions that will support systemic change to benefit everyone.
We COMMIT to openness and transparency. We will seek out and listen to diverse voices to help us shape our role in the community and as an advocate for social and environmental justice. Recognizing that we cannot achieve our mission without a central focus on equity, we commit to an intentional path forward.
Locations: Vine Street Village and Mai Thai’s Market
The Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden’s Calming Rooms have been designed for visitors with sensory sensitivities and/or developmental disabilities, who may need a quiet space to help regulate their bodies during a Zoo visit.
The Calming Rooms were created in collaboration with the Cincinnati Children’s Hospital LEND program, and the University of Cincinnati. Experts from these local institutions assisted in the creation of the rooms, and choosing the items and tools inside. These items include: dimming lights, a rocking chair, crash pad, projector with calming images, bubble wall, stereo, vibrating pillow, Time Timer, weighted lap pad, and more!
Each Calming Room can accommodate one family at a time, on a first-come, first-serve basis. To utilize the Calming Room at any point during your Zoo visit, please contact any employee, visit the Welcome Center, or call our Visitor Experience team at 513-475-6198. They will give you directions to meet an employee in the entry area. The door to the Calming Rooms is locked and can only be accessed by an employee. If the Calming Room is in use when you request it, the Visitor Experience team will advise alternative locations for a calm space.
For more information on the Calming Rooms, please check out these resources:
Show your food assistance card – SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) – to receive discounted admission tickets, rides tickets or membership through our Zoo Access for All program. You must have a valid SNAP card and a valid matching photo ID to purchase admission tickets, rides tickets or membership. (Limit of 10 admission tickets and 10 rides tickets purchased per visit with SNAP card. Admission tickets, rides tickets and membership must be purchased in person at the Zoo.)
General Admission Ticket Prices
Adults (13-61) – $6
Child/Senior (3-12 or 62+) – $3
Parking – $1
Rides Ticket Prices
Train – $2
Carousel – $1
Unlimited Rides Package – $4
Zoo for All (Family Standard) Membership – $50
SNAP cards from any state may be accepted. This is the only membership offered through this program. Discount cannot be applied to previously purchased memberships. Membership must be purchased and renewed in person at the zoo, and can not be purchased or renewed online or over the phone. Email [email protected] with any further questions or concerns. P-EBT, WIC, and Medicaid cards do not qualify for this program.
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 under-served children and families.
Thanks to our sponsors and the Living Classroom Education Access Fund, financial assistance is available to under-resourced schools in our target area. Eligible schools can receive free field trips and programming.
Our Field Trip, Zoo on the Move, and Wild Chat programs are state standards aligned, led by highly qualified educators, and incorporate encounters with our ambassador animals. Find out more about the Living Classroom Education Access Fund and our school programs.
Show your official Big Brothers/Big Sisters “BIG” card to receive 50% off of general admission tickets to the Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden. You must show your valid Big Brothers/Big Sisters identification card and photo ID in order to purchase tickets (limit of 2 tickets). Must be purchased in person at the Zoo. Not valid during discounted ticket promotions, such as Penguin Days.
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.
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 Access for All logo on their ID badge.
Visitors are welcome to 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 Plan Your Adventure on the morning of your visit. Base Camp Café is open daily and offers options such as chicken tenders, pizza, salads, burgers, and more. All dining options, menu information and allergen information can be found on the Zoo website at Shopping & Dining. While our food team is as careful as possible when alerted to allergy needs, there is a possibility of cross-contamination. Most of the processing plants that the Zoo uses do process common allergies as well.
Cups of water are available at no cost at any open dining location. Water fountains are available throughout the Zoo (these are turned 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.
The Zoo is unable to provide refrigeration of any kind for any items that may need to be kept cool. We advise that if you require certain items (food or medicine) to be kept chilled, you may bring in a cooler with you. We welcome visitors to administer or tend to medical needs where they feel comfortable in the park. We have many quieter places off of 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.
The Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden is committed to welcoming all visitors and actively complies with the ADA Title III and Ohio regulations regarding service animals. Therapy or emotional support animals are not permitted in the Zoo. If your animal does not meet the requirements for entry, we will gladly provide information on local kennels where your animal can stay during your Zoo visit.
Upon entry, service animal handlers 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 that will allow them to expedite entry during future visits. All visitors will receive a Service Animal Map.
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 a 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 well-being of our Zoo animals, service animals are not permitted in the following areas:
- Goat Yard, Galapagos Tortoise Yard, Free-Flight Aviary, Butterfly Aviary, Roo Valley, Giraffe Feeding Experience 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.
- To access these areas without a service animal, please contact a Visitor Experience Supervisor at 513-475-6198.
Areas designated as ‘Sensitive’ are indicated on the Service Animal Map and listed below. In these areas, we ask service animal handlers to be observant of their animal’s behavior and the behaviors of Zoo animals, and to adjust their viewing accordingly for the well-being of all animals:
- Night Hunters
- Cat Canyon
- African Lions
- Birds of the World
- 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].
The Zoo has single and double strollers, manual wheelchairs, and electric wheelchairs that are available for rent at the Welcome Center, located in Historic Vine Street Village. We have a limited inventory and provide these items on a first-come, first-serve basis. There are a limited number of each item that can be reserved online ahead of time. Online reservations must be made at least 24 hours in advance. Please click here to pre-reserve a rental! We recommend arriving early to rent strollers and wheelchairs.
Must be at least 18 years of age to rent/operate the ECV
Single Strollers – $13 ($12 for members) – 60 lbs. maximum
Double Strollers – $16 ($15 for members) – 100 lbs. maximum
Standard Manual Wheelchair – $13 ($12 for members) – 350 lbs. maximum
Electric Convenience Vehicle (ECV) – $38 ($43 with a canopy) – 450 lbs. maximum
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. We are happy to have many benches and rest areas throughout the Zoo, and any of our employees can guide you to paths that will be less steep.
Due to the size 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 (such as 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 restricted from animal encounter areas such as Galapagos Yard, Goat Yard, Roo Valley and Giraffe Ridge. Segways should be parked in stroller parking areas when not in use.
For more information about mobility and permittable OPDMD’s, please email Annie DeGrood at [email protected].
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, painted dog ears, dung beetle, 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
North American Hill – 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
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 feet iron casts, crocodile statue, manatee bench
Animal Touch Areas – Goat Yard (seasonally), Galapagos Tortoise Yard (seasonally). Seasonal Wild Encounters throughout the park with 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.
As 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 include 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 (be sure to specify the web page in your email) at [email protected]
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.
Zoo Key boxes are also available in Spanish and can be located throughout the Zoo.
Our Public Safety 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. Public Safety has quick access to first responders, CFD, CPD, and ambulances – we ask that you call Zoo Public Safety before calling 911.
In an animal-related, weather-related, or visitor-related emergency, Public Safety will use the intercom to inform and assist visitors.
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 ticketing windows to receive free admission. The visitor requiring a caregiver, and any additional caregivers, will need to purchase an admission ticket to enter the Zoo.
Caregiver Memberships: If an adult (over the age of 18) requires the use of a caregiver to attend the Zoo, please contact [email protected] to discuss membership options.
The Zoo has several parking lots available to visitors, including:
- Vine Lot (Lot A) located at 3427 Vine Street – 20 dedicated handicap/accessible parking spots
- Visitors with handicap/accessible 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.
- Erkenbrecher Lot on Vine St & Erkenbrecher Ave – please go to Vine Lot for accessible parking
- Dury Lot (Lot D) on Dury Ave & Rockdale Ave – please go to Vine Lot for accessible parking
If you plan to rent a manual or electric wheelchair and need it to enter the Zoo, please alert a parking attendant and they will assist you with retrieving one (availability of wheelchairs may vary and is not guaranteed).
Parking can be hectic on busy days (holiday breaks, weekends, nice weather). We are currently improving our Erkenbrecher parking lot, so you may notice construction and limited spots available. We recommend arriving before 11AM or after 2PM to avoid most traffic difficulties. Parking is on a first-come, first-serve basis and cannot be guaranteed as we sometimes run out of parking spots.
All Zoo visitor restrooms are equipped with at least 1 accessible stall and 1 baby changing table.
- Vine Street Village
- 2 Sensory-Friendly family restrooms with adult changing tables (31” off of the ground, can accommodate up to 400lbs; transfer board available in Welcome Center)
- Mai Thai’s Marketplace
- 1 Sensory-Friendly family restroom
- 1 Sensory-Friendly family restroom
- Picnic Shelters
- 2 Sensory-Friendly family restrooms
- Children’s Zoo
- Education Center
Sensory-Friendly restrooms include manual flush toilets instead of automatic flush, and paper towels instead of hand dryers. 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.
The Cincinnati Zoo has a train, carousel, Kanga’ Klimb Ropes Course, Giraffe Feeding Experience, and Roo Valley Walkabout 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 30” deep from the backrest-to-backrest. Boarding the train requires visitors to step up 19” 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 $5 per rider.
The Safari Train has an accessible train car that can accommodate 1 wheelchair at a time. The accessible car is 56″ long and 37″ wide. Boarding the train using our accessible ramp requires visitors to clear a 32”w x 50”h entry into the car. 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.
Note: the train produces artificial chugging noises, an artificial train whistle sound, and will sound a bell at every train crossing. In addition, the train may produce loud grinding noises against the tracks. Guests with sensitivity to loud noises may become uncomfortable during the train ride.
The Conservation Carousel, located on the West side of Swan Lake, 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 2 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. Riders under 42 inches must wear a seatbelt during the ride. Carousel tickets cost $4 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 Kanga’ Klimb Ropes Course, located between the main Zoo Shop and Hops, challenges visitors to new heights. There are 3 elements which can be accessed using the accessible zip harness. There is no time limit for the course, and guests must still meet the course safety requirements. Aerial Guides are available throughout the course to offer tips for navigating obstacles. The Kanga’ Klimb experience cost is $18 for members and $21 for non members. A Kanga’ Klimb waiver must be filled out prior to entering the course (waivers available at the Kanga’ Klimb ticket booth or online).
The Kanga’ Klimb ropes course can accommodate 1 wheelchair at a time. To experience the ropes course, speak to an Aerial Guide, who will assist in fitting you in the seated zip harness for the course and will wheel you around the main treehouse. They will then hook you into the zip harness on the first element, where you can then traverse the course at your own pace.
The Access Pass is available for visitors who may have significant trouble standing/waiting in line at the train, carousel, Giraffe Feeding Experience, Kanga’ Klimb, or Roo Valley. Using the Access Pass, visitors will wait the same length of time as the line, but outside of the traditional physical line. To use an Access Pass, ask an employee at the Welcome Center, train, carousel, Giraffe Feeding Experience, Kanga’ Klimb or Roo Valley for a pass: they will calculate the wait time and give you a lanyard with the time you are allowed to ride/enter the experience. At or after your time has passed, bring the lanyard to an employee at the ride or experience, and they will take it and allow you onto the next ride or experience through a separate entrance.
Since 2019, the Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Garden has partnered with Children’s Hospital and Santa Claus to provide a sensory-friendly meet and greet for our visitors with sensory sensitivities and/or developmental disabilities. Santa arrives at the Zoo early to meet families who may not be able to visit in the Festival of Lights environment.
Sensory-Friendly Santa dates for 2023
November 29 – December 1
December 7 – 10
December 14 – December 17
December 21 – December 23
Sensory Santa will take place from 1pm-3pm for the dates listed above, with 10 minute time slots every day. Reservations are free to make, and be found here.
*Admission not included with reservation. Valid admission ticket or membership required for entry to the zoo.
- Reserved times to help families avoid standing in line and waiting
- Holiday music volume is lowered and bright lights are dimmed or turned off
- Only one family has access to the area at a time to avoid additional distraction or stimulation
- Santa received training from Dr. Jen Smith (Children’s LEND Program) for tips and information on interacting with visitors with different abilities.
- Families visited Santa and the Zoo before the Festival of Lights crowds arrive, and before it’s dark (for those with holiday light sensitivities)
If event fills up or you need to cancel your reservation, please fill out our cancellation and waitlist form here.
Please contact Annie DeGrood at [email protected] for all other information about Sensory Santa.
Sensory Santa Sponsored by:
For specific questions regarding accessibility, email Annie DeGrood at [email protected]. Please allow up to 2 days to respond.
For general questions or immediate needs, please call the Visitor Experience Team at 513-559-7713 or email us at [email protected].
For Public Safety needs or concerns, please call 513-475-6112.