Visitors: The Zoo will close early Friday, Saturday and Sunday (Oct. 18-20) in preparation for Boo at the Zoo. See the hours page for details.
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The Smithsonian's National Zoo makes every effort to accommodate visitors with disabilities. Wheelchairs and electronic vehicles are available to rent at the Information Stations at the Visitor Center, Panda Plaza and across from the Mane Grill. All Zoo exhibits are wheelchair-accessible. However, please be aware that the Zoo is located on hilly terrain in Rock Creek Park. In the Visitor Center lobby, a lift gives wheelchair users access to restrooms, water fountains and the Asia Trail shop. Restrooms located along Olmsted Walk are also accessible. 

If you need any assistance, please ask at any Information Station or parking booth. For more information for visitors with disabilities to the Zoo, please call the Guest Services Office at 202-633-4480. 

Wheelchair and Electronic Vehicle Rental

Wheelchairs and electronic vehicles are available on a first-come, first-served basis.

Wheelchair: Free
Electronic Vehicle: Members: $25, Non-members: $30

Manual wheelchairs are available from the Visitor Center Information Desk (near Parking Lot A) and the Information Stations at Panda Plaza (Parking Lots A/B) and Lion/Tiger Hill (Parking Lot D). There is no charge for non-motorized wheelchairs.

Electronic convenience vehicles are available for rent at the Visitor Center Information Desk and the Information Stations at Panda Plaza and Lion/Tiger Hill.  A state-issued driver's license or photo I.D. is required to rent and operate an electronic convenience vehicle. Guests must be at least 16 years old to operate an electronic vehicle and those under 18 years old must be accompanied by a parent or guardian.

Parking and Entrances

Designated accessible parking spaces are located in Parking Lots A, B and D on a first-come, first-served basis.

Guest Shuttle Service

The Zoo operates a guest shuttle that runs on a continuous loop from the Bus Parking Lot to the lower entrance of the Zoo and back. The shuttle takes 15 to 20 minutes to complete the loop and does not stop at Parking Lot C. 

Shuttle Hours:

Summer: 11 a.m. - 6:30 p.m.

Winter: 11 a.m. - 5 p.m.


Access services for guided tours, including sign language interpretation, hearing assistance devices and tactile tours with verbal description, are available by request. Please call 202-633-3056 to request accessibility services.

Morning at the Museum

Morning at the Museum is a free, sensory friendly program for families with children with disabilities. The program is managed by the Access Smithsonian office. On select dates, registered families are invited to visit a Smithsonian museum or part of the Zoo before it opens to the public. Each program has thematic activities that relate to the museum or Zoo's exhibit content and a take-a-break sensory space. Families are also welcome to explore the museum or Zoo exhibit at their own pace. 

Prior to each program, pre-visit materials are sent via email to registered families to help plan and prepare. Programs take place on Saturday or Sunday mornings. Registration is required. To register for a program or to learn more, please contact Ashley Grady at access@si.edu.

Social Narratives

Social narratives are resource guides for individuals with cognitive disabilities and are useful as pre-visit guides to animal areas within the park. The social narratives highlight what visitors may encounter while touring the Smithsonian's National Zoo. In addition to showcasing animals in the collection, these guides also provide information on quiet areas, educational demonstrations, hands-on activities and artistic works. View and download the Zoo's social narratives.

Service Dogs

Service dogs that are individually trained to do work or perform tasks for people with disabilities are welcome at the Zoo.

Website Accessibility

The Smithsonian's National Zoo and Conservation Biology Institute is committed to making its information and communication technologies accessible to individuals with disabilities. To meet this commitment, our web pages have been designed to meet or exceed the Section-508 standards and to conform to the W3C Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0, Level AA. 

If you have feedback or concerns related to the accessibility of any content on this website, or have ideas or comments that would help us improve the accessibility and usability of our website, please contact the Office of Communications at 202-633-3055. If applicable, please include the web address or URL and the specific problems you have encountered.