Your questions answered - our Zoos and social distancing

ZSL London and Whipsnade Zoos reopened on Monday 15 June.

We have worked hard to put safety measures in place at our Zoos, offering an open-air opportunity to see amazing animals and to reconnect with nature.

We have implemented several new precautions and followed Government advice so that we can provide a safe and enjoyable visit for everyone.

Some of these measures include:

  • Limiting the number of visitors per day.
  • All visitors (including our supporters) must pre-book tickets online so we can manage numbers safely.
  • Tickets are split into slots to spread visitors throughout the day.
  • One-way routes around London Zoo to help with visitor flow and to ensure social distancing.
  • Toilets are open, but we've introduced some new hygiene measures.
  • Protective screens at contact points including at ticket checks and Member kiosks.
  • Floor markings and reminder signs throughout the Zoos demarcating 2m distance.
  • Hand-sanitiser/handwash stations at the entrances, exits and at regular stops around each Zoo.
  • Card or mobile device payments (e.g. Apple Pay, Google Pay) only, no cash will be accepted.
  • Many indoor areas are now open again, but walkthrough exhibits remain closed for the time being.
  • Indoor children’s play areas (and Hullabazoo outdoor play area at Whipsnade Zoo) are closed. London's Animal Adventure Splash Zone also remains closed.
  • The Great Whipsnade Railway is closed.
  • Take-way catering units only.
  • Talks and demonstrations cancelled until further notice to prevent over-crowding.
  • Regular cleaning carried out across the Zoos.

For details on our full safety measures, please refer to our frequently asked questions (FAQs) below:

Booked for the wrong zoo? Find out what to do here.

What do I need to know about visiting your Zoos?
  • Can I visit ZSL London and Whipsnade Zoos?

Yes, our Zoos re-opened on 15 June.  You can pre-book your ticket here.
The Zoo’s summer opening hours of 10.00 – 18:00 remain the same, but visitors need to pre-book a timed slot.

  • Will the Zoos be very busy with lots of queues?

We have strictly limited the number of tickets on sale each day and split them into timed slots to spread visitors throughout the day. We will also be quickly scanning visitors on arrival to avoid big queues at the entrance and we have marked out areas where queues might occur to help everyone maintain 2m distance from one another. 
We have also stopped several promotions and all third-party sales so that we can control numbers more effectively and ensure that visitors have a safe and enjoyable experience. 

  •  Are all the exhibits open?

All outdoor exhibits are open along with many indoor areas. However animal walkthrough exhibits are still closed. As we open up more of the Zoos, masks may be required to enter certain areas, so please bring one with you.
We have also introduced one-way routes around London Zoo to help with visitor flow and to ensure social distancing. Visitors can choose from 3 different routes depending on the animals they would like to see and the time they would like to spend in the Zoo.

At Whipsnade, our penguins close at 5.30pm, and last entry to the Butterfly House is at 5.15pm.

  • Can I take the one-way routes around London Zoo multiple times?

Yes, all the routes end in the Zoo's central courtyard so you can take them in any order and as many times as you wish, as long as you remain in the Zoo.

Tickets are for single entry to the Zoo only.

  • How long can I stay at the zoo?

There is no time limit on your visit but to manage capacities and ensure safe distancing, we would recommend you stay no longer than 4 hours.

  • Are the play areas open?

At London Zoo the Animal Adventure play equipment is open from 4 July. The splash park remains closed.

At Whipsnade Zoo, Hullabazoo (indoors and outdoors) remains closed until further notice.

  • Are the cafes and shops open?

In line with government advice, our sit-in cafes remain closed.  If government advice enables them to open, then they will be done so with appropriate contingencies in place including limiting numbers, protective screens, social distancing measures and card transactions.

Take-away units are open. Only limited hot food options are available at Whipsnade, so we encourage you to bring your own picnics and packed lunches, as mentioned below. You will still be able to refill water bottles at our Visitor Centre; buy cold drinks, ice cream, sweets and crisps at each of our Sealion Shop, Penguin Kiosk and Visitor Centre, and treat yourselves to an ice cream at Jude's Ice Cream Van [near Lions] and our Railway Station, on site at Whipsnade. Our Station Store and Africa Outpost will also be able to offer you sandwiched, salads, hot drinks and bakery items.

Our zoo shops are open, so you'll be able to pick up a souvenir there, from outdoor pop-up vendors, or our online shop.

 

  • Can I bring my own food and drink? And where can I eat it?

Yes, you can bring your own food. There are open-air picnic areas at both Zoos and outdoor tables will be 2m apart and cleaned regularly. We kindly ask everyone, whether bringing their own food or buying food on site, to help our staff and please dispose of all waste in bins provided.

  • How will you manage your toilets so they are safe to use?

We are providing extra hand sanitiser for people to use before and after entering the toilet blocks. We also have social distancing markers and reminders for everyone, and expect all visitors to respect these whilst using these facilities. Our cleaning staff will also be cleaning all bathroom facilities with increased frequency. In addition, a queuing system will be in place for the main toilets at Whipsnade with only one family/household being allowed in the toilet block at any one time.

  • Will you be running talks and demonstrations?

No. As these attract groups of people standing in close proximity, we are not running our talks programme until further notice.

  • What about animal experiences like ‘Meet the animals’ or overnight stays in the Lodges?

Selected animal experiences are now available - please see the Experiences section of the website for the latest details.

Anyone with pre-booked experiences whose booking has been affected will be contacted by our Supporter Contact team.

  • Are the Zoos still accessible for wheelchair users?

Yes, both Zoos are still fully accessible. Find out more about accessibility at ZSL Whipsnade and London Zoos.

  • Will I still be able to hire a wheelchair?

Yes, both Zoos will still have wheelchairs for hire which will be cleaned after each use.

  • Is the number of tickets I can buy restricted?

In order to maintain social distancing, we need to limit the number of people visiting the Zoo, therefore initially we have set a limit of buying no more than 5 tickets in one transaction.  We will monitor our visitor numbers on a regular basis with a view to increasing our capacities when it is safe to do so.

  • Will I need to wear a mask?

We want you to feel comfortable during your visit. You’re free to wear a facemask if you’d prefer to although, in line with government guidelines, you don’t have to. As we open up more areas of our Zoos, we may need to ask you to wear a mask to access certain areas. For this reason we suggest bringing one with you when you visit. You may also spot some of our team wearing masks when you get here, too.

  • Why are some zookeepers wearing masks?

Some zookeepers are wearing masks as an extra precaution while going about their work.

 

How do I get to ZSL London and Whipsnade Zoos?
  • How can I get to London Zoo?

If you live close by, we encourage you to walk or cycle. There are pleasant walking routes through Regent’s Park and along Regent’s Canal from Camden Town and Paddington Basin. There is a Santander Cycle Docking Station opposite the Zoo entrance and another in our main car park.

If you cannot walk or cycle, please arrive by car. We are outside of the congestion charging zone. Sat nav: NW1 4SX. Parking is available in our car park (£14.50) or on Outer Circle (parking meters, maximum 4hrs).

Directions and more information

  • How can I get to Whipsnade Zoo?

The best way to travel to Whipsnade is by car. We have a large free car park just outside the Zoo entrance, or you can choose to drive into and around the Zoo for an additional charge (£25 per car / £12.50 for members).

 

What Covid-secure measures will you have in place?
  • Is it safe to visit?

The safety and welfare of our visitors, staff and animals is always our top priority and we are taking every measure to ensure this. 
Scientific advice is that open outdoor spaces are the places of lowest risk. Both our Zoos are open air; London Zoo is set within London’s largest park – Regent’s Park – and Whipsnade Zoo is in the Chiltern Hills countryside. 
We are limiting the number of people who can visit so that we can safely manage people and enable social distancing between visitors, and between visitors and our staff.

  • What specific precautions are you taking at the Zoos?

We have made the decision to limit our visitor numbers so that we can safely ensure social distancing.  We are operating at a very reduced capacity, and we will regularly review our numbers in order to increase our daily capacity as lockdown is eased further and in line with government advice.
All visitors, including supporters and under-3s, must book their tickets in advance and tickets are split into timed slots to spread visitors throughout the day.
The following measures have also been put in place:

  • Floor markings and reminder signs throughout the Zoos demarcating 2m distance
  • Protective screens at contact point including at ticket checks and Member kiosks
  • Hand-sanitiser/handwash stations at the entrances, exits and at regular stops around the Zoo
  • Card or mobile device payments (e.g. Apple Pay, Google Pay) only, no cash will be accepted
  • Indoor children's play areas (and Hullabazoo outdoor play area at Whipsnade Zoo) are closed. London's Animal Adventure Splash Zone also remains closed.
  • The Great Whipsnade Railway is closed
  • Take-away catering only
  • Talks and demonstrations cancelled until further notice to prevent over-crowding
  • Regular cleaning carried out across the Zoos

We have also introduced one-way routes around London Zoo to help with visitor flow and to ensure social distancing. Visitors can choose from 3 different routes depending on the animals they would like to see and the time they would like to spend in the Zoo.

  • How will you ensure that all visitors act responsibly and ensure the visit is safe for all?

We ask that all those visiting our Zoos behave responsibly and respect the measures that we have put in place. There are three key rules that we ask people to adhere to on their visit: Stay 2 metres apart; do not touch anything as you explore the Zoo; and wash your hands regularly.   We will also have staff in key places throughout the Zoo to help remind people of our ‘Zoo rules’ whilst also supporting a great day out for all.

We also ask that people take responsibility for their own health and the health of the community before visiting the zoo. Please do not choose to visit the zoo if you are experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 or have any underlying health conditions that may put you at risk. If you are vulnerable in any way, it is your responsibility to make the right choice for yourself and others around you.

  • Is it safe to be near the animals?

Yes, there is no evidence that this poses any risk of COVID-19 infection.

  • Will I need to wear a mask?

We want you to feel comfortable during your visit. You’re free to wear a facemask if you’d prefer to although, in line with government guidelines, you don’t have to. As we open up more areas of our Zoos, we may need to ask you to wear a mask to access certain areas. For this reason we suggest bringing one with you when you visit.
Some of our Zookeepers will be wearing masks to minimise any risk of transmitting any virus onto our animals.

  • How are you making it safe for your staff?

Staff safety is just as important as visitor safety, so a range of plans are in place to protect them too, including small numbers of staff on site, new safety equipment and help maintaining social distancing from one another, and from visitors.

  • Why are some zookeepers wearing masks?

Everything ZSL does is to protect animals, including those in our care at London and Whipsnade Zoos. Our keepers are wearing masks to minimise any risk of transmitting any virus onto these incredibly important animals.

  • Have you performed risk assessments to ensure my visit will be safe?

Yes, we have and if you'd like to, you can read them here:

ZSL London Zoo Risk Assessment

ZSL Whipsnade Zoo Risk Assessment

How do I book tickets?
  • Can I buy my ticket on arrival at the Zoo?

No, all tickets must be booked in advance including tickets for under 3s. This is essential so that we can safely manage the number of people visiting the Zoo each day. 

  • I booked a ticket but now I cannot come on that day, can I get a refund?

Unfortunately, we are unable to offer a refund if you are now unable to visit.

  • Do under 3s also need a ticket?

Yes, in order for us to manage capacities within the Zoos, everybody will need a pre-booked ticket including under 3s. The under 3 ticket remains free.

  • I booked a ticket via a third party – is it still valid?

Unfortunately not. To manage numbers on site we need to closely control how many tickets have been sold for each day, so we need to sell them all directly, for a specific date and session. Please contact the company you bought your voucher from for an exchange/refund.

  • How do I redeem my flexi ticket?

Your flexi/bulk voucher alone is not valid for entry to the Zoo. It must be exchanged in advance for a dated Zoo ticket. When you know which day you’d like to visit, simply go to zsl.org/BookTickets, choose the Zoo your ticket is valid for, select the date and the tickets for your group. When you proceed to pay, select ‘Pay now' > 'Gift voucher’ then enter your flexi ticket voucher number(s). That will reduce the cost of those tickets to zero.

  • Are any of the promotions that ran before closure still valid?

So that we can manage our visitor numbers effectively and ensure a safe and enjoyable experience for everyone, we have decided to stop all active promotions at this moment in time. This means that we are not accepting Tesco Vouchers, National 241 Rail Offers or any other long-standing promotion. Unfortunately, this means that we are also unable to currently offer free entry to Blue Peter badge holders.

  • I have one of your flyers with a discount offer on it. Can I still use it?

No. So that we can manage the number of people entering the Zoo, we are only selling tickets online. This allows us to cap numbers really effectively for everyone’s safety. Unfortunately, this also means that promotions have had to be stopped, including the 20% offer which was valid for sales at the gate only.

  • What about tickets for essential carers? I don’t see them online…

Free admission for an essential carer is still available when visiting with a paying visitor with additional needs. This will be managed on the gate upon arrival.

  • Can I upgrade my Zoo ticket to become a member?

You can upgrade your Zoo ticket to membership within 14 days of your visit and only pay the difference! Find out more at www.zsl.org/membership.
 

I'm a Member, Fellow or Patron - how am I affected by new social distancing measures at the Zoos?
  • Do Zoo supporters including Members, Fellows and Patrons need to book in advance too?

Yes, everyone visiting our Zoos will have to pre-book a ticket in advance, so we are able to carefully manage the number of visitors in the Zoo each day. For Members, Fellows and Patrons, these tickets will of course be for free. Please note: Every pre-booked free ticket is only valid on the selected date and in conjunction with a valid ZSL supporter card, or temporary slip for new supporters. Otherwise, unfortunately, we will not be able to grant you entry into the Zoo. 

  • I am a Member, Fellow or Patron - how do I pre-book a ticket?

All supporters will be able to pre-book free tickets online here, using their membership ID as login. You will be able to book tickets for yourself, everyone on your membership and for memberships related to your account. 
If you have trouble logging in with your short membership ID/ CRM ID – you will find that in all correspondence from ZSL – please contact us at membership@zsl.org, fellowship@zsl.org or patronage@zsl.org respectively, or ring us on 0344 225 1826.

  • I am a new member – why can’t I book a ticket?

If you just bought a new membership, please allow 24-48 hours for your Membership ID to be updated on the booking system. You will then be able to book your free tickets  –capacity permitting. New online tickets will initially be released in two-week blocks. Please keep an eye out for new tickets every other Tuesday and regularly check the website for the most up-to-date information on ticket availability

  • Will numbers be restricted for members, Fellows and Patrons?

In order to safely manage visitor numbers and to ensure social distancing, we are limiting the number of people who can visit our Zoos. We are initially re-opening with a reduced capacity. So that we can also generate much needed funds from single visit paying customers, this also means that we have to set limitations on our supporter visits too. However, we will monitor our capacities on a regular basis in order to maximise supporter visitation.

  • How far in advance can I pre-book my free ticket?

New online tickets will initially be released in two-week blocks. Please keep an eye out for new tickets every other Tuesday and regularly check the website for the most up-to-date information on ticket availability.

  • Why are there dates available for paying visitors but I can't book them as a supporter?

There is a pre-defined, ring-fenced allocation of tickets for members that may become booked up at a different rate to paying visitor slots. Find out more here.

  • How often can I come and visit?

While we have to limit the number of visitors to our Zoos to maintain social distancing, you will need to pre-book a free ticket in advance for the day you would like to visit. In the first few months of opening and to give as many members as possible the opportunity to visit, we kindly ask you visit not more than twice every two weeks. Please consider the date and Zoo location of your visit carefully before you book, as we will not be able to exchange tickets on an individual basis after you have booked.

  • The date I want to visit isn't available, what do I do?

The day you wanted to select might be fully booked already due to limited capacity. Please try booking an alternative date or wait until more tickets are released.

  • What if I can’t make it to the Zoo on the day I have pre-booked?

To give as many visitors as possible the opportunity to visit our Zoos, we kindly ask you to consider carefully before booking your tickets. Please make sure you can visit on the day and time you have selected.

  • How do I cancel my free ticket?

As we are working with See Tickets, you will need to cancel directly with them. All you need is your booking reference – you will have received with your PDF tickets – and the postcode associated with the order. Visit See Ticket's customer service page  and fill in reference number and postcode in the top section. 

On Track Your Order page – click red button ‘Cancel Order’. You will then be able to book for another date of your choice. 

  • Can I give my pre-booked free ticket to a friend?

No, free supporter tickets are non-transferable and can only be used by those listed on their membership or Fellowship and in conjunction with a valid ZSL membership or Fellowship card which must be shown when entering the Zoo. 

  • I am a Gold Member. Will my additional benefits still be available?

Most of your special Gold Member benefits are safe to use and are available for you to enjoy. Only the following benefits will not be accessible in the early stages of re-opening:

  • Great Whipsnade Railway discount – closed for now
  • London Zoo merry-go-round – closed for now
  • Daily Gold member Hullabazoo Indoor Play sessions – Hullabazoo Indoor Play is closed for now
  • Fast Track entrance at the corner of Regents Park - closed for now
  • Reference use of ZSL Library – the library is closed for now
  • Wild About magazine – this will be a digital copy for us to save costs
  • Can I use my half price vouchers at the moment?

As we are only able to allow a limited number of visitors per day, we want to ensure as many of our loyal supporters have an opportunity to visit. Also in line with government guidelines, we want to encourage people to stay within their own households and we are therefore temporarily stopping the use of half-price tickets. They will be re-introduced when it is safe to do so.

  • As a Fellow, can I still bring in a guest with me for free?

As a Fellow, you are still able to bring a guest into the Zoo with you, however you must also pre-book this ticket at the same time as you pre-book yours. We respectfully ask however that you follow government guidelines regarding meeting up with people outside of your own household.

  • I am a Patron, can I still sign in guests? 

As a Patron you will still be able to sign in one guest into the Zoo as part of your Patronage, however you must pre-book this ticket at the same time as you pre-book yours.  Also, your guest must accompany you when you present your tickets and cards at the gate. We will be reviewing an increase in guest sign ins as we progress in line with our Patronage tier, however at present we want to make sure as many people can enjoy our Zoos as possible especially given our limited numbers. 

  • Can I use my complimentary Patron tickets at the moment?

As numbers are restricted to a limited number of visitors per day, we want to ensure as many of our loyal supporters have an opportunity to visit. Also in line with government guidelines, we want to encourage people to stay within their own households and limit contact with others, we are therefore temporarily stopping the use of complimentary Patron tickets. They will be re-introduced when it is safe to do so and when government guidelines allow.

  • I’m a new member, Fellow or Patron, how can I pick up my membership card?

The membership kiosk at London Zoo and membership desk at Whipsnade are open – staffing levels permitting – to take your photos and print your membership cards. However, if there is a queue or if you would prefer to receive your cards by post, please send a passport-sized photo of each member on your membership to membership@zsl.org, quoting your membership ID in any email with the team. This can be found on your temporary membership slip.
For Fellows, please send to fellowship@zsl.org quoting your membership or CRM number in any email. This can be found on your Fellowship welcome letter.
For Patrons, please send to patronage@zsl.org quoting your membership or CRM number in any email. This can be found on your Patronage welcome letter.

  • I’m a Member, will my membership be extended for the time the Zoos have been closed?

If you are a ZSL Gold or Silver Member, we will automatically extend your membership for 3 months, as you weren’t able to visit us. The closure of our Zoos has put us into a difficult financial situation – and we will be facing a tough time long after reopening. But your ‘Waive for Wildlife’ really will make all the difference. If you can, waive your extension today and help us to keep our animals thriving and our conservation work running. Get in touch today at membership@zsl.org, quoting your membership ID.

  • I've booked a supporter ticket but I haven't recieved the confirmation email, what do I do?

We're pleased to say that you can easily re-request your confirmation email, to be sent over to you from this page.

I’ve booked for Hullabazoo, what do I do now?

Following Government guidelines, Hullabazoo Indoor Soft Play is closed until further notice. If you have booked a session or a party with us, we will be in touch to offer a full refund shortly.

I have an experience booked at ZSL London or Whipsnade Zoo, what should I do?

Selected experiences are now back up and running - please see the Experiences pages on the website for the very latest information.

We will continue to follow Government advice and update those whose bookings are affected.

If you have booked a Meet the Elephants experience at Whipsnade, as we are fully booked for the rest of 2020, you will be offered a priority booking for 2021.

Whilst we are pleased to have reopened our Zoos with limited capacity, due to the current COVID-19 guidelines in place, we have chosen to postpone all of our Lookout Lodge Experiences at Whipsnade until the end of year to ensure we are able to operate our Zoos safely for our visitors, staff and animals. We understand this is disappointing and those customers with existing bookings will be contacted via email with their options.

For those looking to book a Lookout Lodge for 2021, Dates will go on sale on 1st November 2020.

We would really like to help in any way we can, so please email experienceenquiries@zsl.org to discuss your booking or any further questions you may have. 

My school has an Education session booked, will it still go ahead?

In line with Government guidelines, all Education sessions at ZSL London and Whipsnade Zoos are suspended until further notice. We’ve made every effort to contact and rearrange with the schools that have booked, but do get in touch if you have any questions about a booking, please email schools@zsl.org.

As well as our online learning resources hub which can be found here, the ZSL education team are offering free digital outreach sessions from the Zoo on a range of topics – to find out more please email learning@zsl.org.
 

Can I still visit ZSL Library?

ZSL’s Library is currently closed. If you have borrowed books we will be automatically renewing your loan, so please don’t worry. There’s no need to attempt to return your books at the moment.

I have a venue booked, what do I do?

We have attempted to contact everyone who has made a booking over the next three months but if you have any questions, please email venuehire@zsl.org and the team will be happy to help. 

Can I bring my car into ZSL Whipsnade Zoo?

You can bring your car inside ZSL Whipsnade Zoo, but there is an additional charge of £25 (£12.50 for Gold members) per car to do this. Please note we will be limiting the number of cars that can enter the Zoo, operating on a first come, first served system. You cannot book car entry into the Zoo in advance at the moment . If you are not able to take your car into the Zoo, there is a large, free car park just outside the Zoo.

I have another question that isn't answered here, how can I get in touch?

Please contact us on the details below if you have any questions that have not been answered in our FAQs

MTA Giraffe

Book a ticket for ZSL London or Whipsnade Zoo

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