Accessibility and Sensory Information

The Smithsonian's National Zoo and Conservation Biology Institute is committed to providing inclusive experiences for all audiences. If you need assistance, please ask at any Information Station or parking booth.

Service Animals

Service animals are welcome at the Zoo. Emotional support, therapy, comfort, and companion dogs and dogs in training to be service dogs are not considered service dogs under the guidelines of the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Getting To and Around the Zoo

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 and water fountains. Benches are located throughout the Zoo.

Parking and Entrances

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

Please check the Zoo Map to see updated information regarding Zoo entrances, pedestrian pathways and building closures.

Free Wheelchair and Electronic Vehicle Rental

Wheelchairs and electronic vehicles are available on a first-come, first-served basis from the retail kiosks located outside the Visitor Center.

Manual Wheelchair: Free

Electronic Convenience Vehicle: $30 for members, $40 for non-members

Please note: 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 18 years old to operate an electronic vehicle.


Strollers are available for guests to rent at the Visitor Center.

Single Stroller: $9 for members, $12 for non-members

Double Stroller: $12 for members, $15 for non-members

Please note: Strollers are available to rent on a first-come, first-served basis. Zoo staff follow strict cleaning and disinfecting protocols between each rental use.

Guest Shuttle Service

Guest shuttles are not operating at this time.


Restrooms are located at the Visitor Center, Panda Plaza, Elephant Outpost and Conservation Pavilion. All restrooms throughout the Zoo are accessible. The Visitor Center's restrooms and water fountains are accessible via a wheelchair lift.

Family restrooms are located in the Visitor Center, Elephant Outpost and Conservation Pavilion. All restrooms at the Zoo have automatic flushing mechanisms.

Programs and Services

Public Programs

Many of the Zoo's daily animal demonstrations occur outdoors. Theater programming is temporarily suspended.

Access Services

Access services, including sign language interpretation, CART and audio description, are available upon request. Please email two weeks in advance to request these services.


The Zoo is a location for the Aira Access mobile information and verbal description service. Visitors can download the free Aira app on a smartphone and use the app to speak to an Aira agent using minutes provided courtesy of the Zoo. For 30-minute intervals, an agent can assist with wayfinding to the nearest dining area, shop or restroom, describing the exhibits with details about size, number of animals, signage and more. To continue beyond the allotted time, visitors can call for a new agent. Visit Aira Access for more information.

Sensory-Friendly Tools and Information

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 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

Please note that social narratives may not reflect which exhibit buildings and areas of the Zoo are currently open. See the Exhibits page for a list of open exhibits.

Sensory Friendly Kits

Sensory friendly kits are not available at this time.

Tactile Elements

Tactile elements are provided for all visitors throughout the Zoo, however access to some elements may be restricted. The Zoo asks guests to follow safe hygiene guidelines when choosing to interact with tactile elements.  

Quieter Times to Visit the Zoo

Labor Day through Easter (excluding Thanksgiving through New Year’s) is typically a less busy, quieter time of the year to visit the Zoo. For additional information related to visiting during special events, please see the events page. Visitation varies depending on holidays, school vacations, weather and other factors. Light, noise and crowds vary widely between animal exhibits.

Website Accessibility

The Zoo is committed to making its information and communication technologies accessible to individuals with disabilities. To meet this commitment, 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 improve the accessibility and usability of this 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