Share this page:

FAQs About Visiting the Zoo

We can’t wait to welcome you back to the Zoo. We've made several changes at the Zoo due to COVID-19. The number of visitors will be limited, and we’ve implemented new safety protocols, procedures and guidelines to provide a safe and great experience for our visitors, staff and animals. Explore the Welcome Back to the Zoo page to prepare for your upcoming visit, and read through these FAQs if you have additional questions.

Zoo Hours and Operations

The Zoo is open 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Last admittance for timed entry passes and paid parking passes is 3 p.m. Learn more about entry passes below.

If you must leave the Zoo for any reason during your visit and plan to come back, you’ll need to have your hand stamped in the Visitor Center near the main Connecticut Avenue entrance or at the Lion-Tiger information kiosk at the bottom of the Zoo. If you intend to leave and return within the same day, you must reenter the Zoo before the gates close at 3 p.m.

Yes. Currently, the Zoo is limiting the number of guests to 5,000 each day, which is 20% capacity.

Cleaning and Safety

We’re working hard to create the safest possible environment for everyone at the Zoo, including our visitors, staff, volunteers and the animals in our care. We ask that everyone follow social distancing protocols and other posted guidelines throughout the Zoo, wear face coverings and wash/sanitize their hands often. If you feel sick before your scheduled reservation, please do not visit the Zoo.

Yes. Zoo staff and all visitors ages 6 and older are required to wear face coverings that cover the nose and mouth during their visit, including while outside (except while dining in designated areas). We strongly recommend that all visitors ages 2 and older wear face coverings as well. 

Visitors without face coverings will not be permitted to enter the Zoo.

No. Zoo staff will not be taking guests’ temperatures at this time. If you feel unwell, please stay home!
Yes. We’ve made some changes inside the park to allow Zoo staff, volunteers and guests to appropriately social distance. You'll see signs throughout the Zoo to help you follow these guidelines. We’ve limited the number of guests that can be in the Zoo at one time. Additionally, we have indicated recommended paths, with a few select one way-only areas, to help control traffic flow.
Animal care staff wear appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE) during their shifts to keep themselves and the animals safe, including any time they are working directly with animals, their food, or anything else an animal may come in contact with. We have also installed barriers throughout the Zoo to prevent visitors from coming within 6 feet of animals susceptible to the virus.
The Zoo’s bathrooms will be cleaned more frequently throughout each day. Every other urinal, sink and hand-dryer will also be blocked off to promote social distancing. High-touch areas of the Zoo, such as doors, will also be cleaned more frequently.
Bathrooms are open throughout the park for you to wash your hands. Sanitizing stations are strategically placed throughout the park at frequently touched areas. We also encourage guests to bring their own hand sanitizer for personal use throughout the park.

Animals and Exhibits

For the latest information on open exhibits, check the Welcome Back to the Zoo page.

For the safety of guests, staff and animals, we've closed some areas of the Zoo where social distancing is impossible. For the latest information on open exhibits, check the Welcome Back to the Zoo page.

To prevent large groups of people from crowding together, daily animal demonstrations are canceled until further notice.
The Giant Panda House and some outdoor viewing areas are closed. Weather permitting, pandas can be viewed in their yards along parts of Asia Trail from 8-10 a.m. They will have access to their yards for the entire day, but we know the pandas don’t like the heat and will likely choose to spend the rest of their day inside. Don’t forget, you can watch Mei Xiang and Tian Tian any time on the Giant Panda Cam.

Food and Amenities

Yes. You can pay with cash or credit card at any of the vendors in the Zoo. However, for safety, we encourage you to pay with a credit card.

Several restaurants and food trucks are open. Only outdoor seating is available, and tables and benches are spaced according to social distancing best practices.

Water fountains can be found throughout the Zoo.
Indoor gift shops are closed. However, several outdoor gift kiosks are open and located throughout the park. 
Some exhibit buildings and the Visitor Center are open to a limited number of guests at a time. Please dress appropriately for the weather and continue to practice social distancing when indoors. For the latest information on open exhibits, check the Welcome Back to the Zoo page.
No. For safety reasons and to ensure social distancing, the guest shuttle, which usually runs between the bottom of the Zoo and the Bus Lot, will not be operating.
Yes, strollers, wheelchairs and electric vehicles are available to rent at the Visitor Center and the Lion-Tiger information kiosk. Zoo staff follow strict cleaning and disinfecting protocols between each use. Wheelchairs are free to rent, while strollers and electric vehicles can be rented for a fee.

Entry Passes

Yes. Admission to the Zoo is still free. However, all guests are required to reserve an entry pass before visiting. If you plan to drive and park at the Zoo, you will need to reserve a paid parking pass.

All guests are required to reserve a timed entry pass or a paid parking pass before visiting the Zoo. If you plan to walk, bike, taxi or take public transportation to the Zoo, you should reserve a free timed entry pass for every member of your group before your visit.

If you choose to drive a personal vehicle and park at the Zoo, you will need to purchase a paid parking pass for $30 before your visit (one pass per vehicle). Your parking pass is your entry pass to the Zoo and covers all passengers in your personal vehicle. You do not need to reserve additional free timed entry passes for each person in your vehicle. Please note that parking spaces are limited each day and may sell out.

You must reserve your timed entry pass or your paid parking pass online before visiting the Zoo. To reserve a pass, visit si.edu/tickets or call 1-800-514-3849 ext. 1.
No. Timed entry passes and paid parking passes are only available online and should be reserved in advance. To reserve a pass, visit si.edu/tickets or call 1-800-514-3849 ext. 1.
Guests can reserve up to six timed entry passes or one paid parking pass per email address.
Yes. Guests of all ages must have their own timed entry pass.

If you can’t reserve enough entry passes at the same time for your entire group, request the remaining passes for the next available time slot. We will allow late entry for those guests who arrive after the time indicated on their entry pass. Last admittance to the Zoo is 3 p.m., and the Zoo closes at 4 p.m.

No. When you arrive at the Zoo in your personal vehicle, you will be directed to the Bus Lot. From there, a parking attendant will check your ticket, make sure each person in your vehicle has a face covering, and direct you to available parking.

Please try to arrive as close as possible to the designated time on your entry pass. If you arrive early, you will have to wait. If you arrive late, you may still enter the Zoo until the gates close at 3 p.m.
Once inside the Zoo, you are welcome to stay until the Zoo closes at 4 p.m. If you leave the park and want to return, you will need a hand stamp from the Visitor Center near the Connecticut Avenue entrance or from the Lion-Tiger information kiosk at the bottom of the Zoo. If you intend to leave and return within the same day, you must reenter the Zoo before the gates close at 3 p.m.
If you have free timed entry passes that you can no longer use, we encourage you to call Etix and request a cancellation to free up tickets for other guests. Refunds for paid parking passes are available until the day of your reservation; same-day parking refunds are not available. To cancel an entry pass or request a parking pass refund, call 1-800-514-3849 ext. 1.

If you can no longer visit the Zoo on the date of your entry pass, you should cancel your passes for that day and request new passes for a different day. We will allow same-day late arrivals. So, for example, if you have passes for 10 a.m. and can’t arrive until 1 p.m., you will still be granted entry to the park. Please try to arrive as close as possible to your designated time. Last admittance is 3 p.m.

If you have a paid parking pass you may arrive at the Zoo any time between 8 a.m. and 3 p.m. The Zoo closes at 4 p.m. If you can no longer visit the Zoo on the day of your parking pass, you can request a refund from the ticket provider up until the day of your visit; same-day parking refunds are not available. To cancel an entry pass or request a parking pass refund, call 1-800-514-3849 ext. 1.

No. At this time, no tour bus groups may reserve passes. Six timed entry passes are allowed per email address.

Commercial vans and buses will not be allowed to park at the Zoo.

Guests will need one paid parking pass for each personal vehicle. All passengers in the personal vehicle will be granted admittance under the one paid parking pass. Commercial vans and buses will not be allowed to park.

No. Commercial vans and buses will not be allowed to park at the Zoo.

You may print your entry pass or use your phone. To save paper, we encourage guests to show their passes on their cell phones.

FONZ Members

Are you a FONZ member? See the Member News and Information page for important updates about member benefits, including rides, parking, refund and extension policies, and reciprocal memberships.

Yes! If you would like to request an extension on your membership, please contact the Membership Office or call 202-633-2922.

Due to COVID-19 safety precautions, parking passes will be required for every vehicle entering the Zoo upon reopen. Parking spaces are limited and available on a first-come, first-served basis during regular Zoo hours. Due to the attendance cap in place to support social distancing following reopen, a very limited number of free parking passes will be available to members each day.

Membership parking benefits do not apply to employees, vendors or contractors doing business with or operating near the Zoo.

Please note that free parking is not available to Standard level members.

Reserve Parking Passes

Yes. In order to support social distancing, tickets will be required and limited to a daily capacity. Tickets must be reserved in advance of your visit, and will be first come, first served. You will need to reserve a walk-up entry pass for everyone in your party.

Reserve Entry Passes

Members must reserve a free parking pass ahead of their visit in order to park for free. All ticket reservations are first come, first served.

  • Free parking passes are available for members but are extremely limited each day.
  • To access free member parking, enter your member ID when reserving your parking pass.
  • If free member parking passes are no longer available, there may still be parking passes for purchase.
  • To ensure that as many members as possible can access free member parking passes, members will be able to reserve one parking pass per week. If you need an additional pass, please contact the Membership Office or call 202-633-2922.

Reserve Parking Passes

Due to safety precautions against COVID-19, there are no rides running at the Zoo at this time. Please check back for updates.

Yes, you will still receive your membership discounts at outdoor dining locations and retail kiosks. Please be prepared to present your proof of active membership and matching photo ID when redeeming your discount benefit.