Accessibility and Inclusivity

At ZSL Whipsnade Zoo, we encourage and welcome everyone to enjoy time connecting with wildlife at our Zoos. Our goal is to create an experience that is accessible for people of all needs and abilities. This commitment to accessibility has us working with local people and specialist organisations to learn how we can improve and make positive changes to ensure every visitor has a wonderful experience. 

For wheelchair users and those with limited mobility

Parking

When visiting ZSL Whipsnade Zoo by car there are two options:

  • You may park in our free external car park with designated Accessible parking bays and push around the Zoo
  • You may drive into the Zoo and park in specified areas around the Zoo (if you have a blue badge, essential car entry is free of charge). 

An essential carer is also optional, free of charge, for you to enjoy the Zoo with the support that you need. 

Please note ZSL Whipsnade Zoo is not a safari park.  

Prices for additional tickets can be found here:

Tickets for ZSL Whipsnade Zoo

Information about parking can be found here:

Parking and Car admission

 

Ramp Access

There is an underpass that gets visitors from the external free car park to the entrance to the Zoo. This is ramped but is a steep ramp out of the underpass. 

There is level ramp access to the following areas:

  • All Animal indoor houses including Butterfly House and Aquarium
  • Base Camp Restaurant and River Cottage Kitchen & Deli
  • Birds of the World Arena to view the displays
  • Hullabazoo indoor and outdoor play areas
  • Hullabazoo Farm
  • First Aid Point (next to the Visitor Centre)
  • The steam train (Please note, two wheelchairs can be accommodated on the train per trip – due to Covid restrictions, the train is not running at the moment, please check before you visit if it is running to avoid disappointment)
  • Owl Wood - Access may cause wheelchair users some difficulty, as it is covered by bark chippings in order to subdue the noise.
  • Events marquee

 

Wheelchair hire

We have a limited number of wheelchairs that are available for hire on a first-come, first-served basis and it is therefore advised to book them in advance of your visit by calling the Retail Shop on 01582 871517. A deposit of £25 is required which will be refunded on return of the wheelchair at the end of your visit.

The wheelchairs are non-motorised and are not self-propelling. 

It is also possible to hire a mobility scooter, and again we'd recommend booking in advance of your visit. A mobility scooter will cost £20 to hire, plus a refundable deposit of £30.

 

Toilets

There are multiple accessible toilets around our Zoo, currently we do not have a full Changing Place facility but we do have a changing area in the Butterfly House/Aquarium. 

Wheelchair accessible toilets can be found at: 

  • Main entrance (RADAR key access; RADAR key available in shop if required)
  • Lawn area before Butterfly House/Aquarium 
  • Tigers/Base Camp
  • Reindeer/River Cottage
  • Hippos/Africa Outpost

 

Penguin queue hopper pass

Great days out for everyone  - Supporting families with additional needs, the Penguin Pass queue hopper gives families the opportunity to hop queues at the Zoo.  

Get your Penguin Pass here: 

Download your pass

There is no need to book your pass for ZSL Whipsnade Zoo, simply download & print the pass or download onto your phone for a more discreet option.  We also have passes available to collect on arrival from our admissions team, please return your pass to the main Zoo Shop at the end of your visit. 

Show your Penguin Pass to our team at admissions, retail or catering outlets and our walk-through exhibits.  Our staff & volunteers will do their best to reduce your queueing time.  

 

Hard to reach areas

Some substrates and paths around the Zoo can be difficult to manage in a wheelchair or if you have mobility issues. The key areas to note are: 

Subway between external car park and entrance to the Zoo (please use your blue badge pass to gain car entry to the Zoo if needed)

Elephant car park – this is a loose substrate area and can be very bumpy

Elephant access from Indian Rhinos – this is a grassy path which during winter months can be prone to flooding. 

Path from Base Camp to flamingos – this is a steep path if you are going up towards flamingos. 

Owl wood – bark chip is down to minimise the noise for these animals that are sensitive to noise. Because of this, pushing on this substrate may be more difficult. 

 

Play

Hullabazoo outdoor play has the following accessible play equipment: 

  • Ramped sand play access
  • Ramp bridge
  • Water pump at height
  • Accessible slide
  • Flat accessible roundabout
  • Sound play
  • Wide carousel swing
  • Quiet areas

Hullabazoo indoor play:

  • Booking is required at the moment due to reduced capacity
  • Play area is for 10 years and younger
  • The toddler play area is accessible by wheelchair but all other areas are accessed by climbing apparatus. 
  • The café and seating area is fully accessible.

 

Micro trikes and pushchairs

Pushchairs and micro trikes are available to hire from the gift shop at the Zoo: 

  • The single buggies are £10 to hire and we take a £15 refundable deposit
  • The double buggies are £15 to hire and we take a £15 refundable deposit
  • Micro Trikes are available to hire for toddlers for just £10 (£15 refundable deposit applies)
For visitors on the autistic spectrum

Penguin hopper pass

Great days out for everyone  - Supporting families with additional needs, the Penguin Pass queue hopper gives families the opportunity to hop queues at the ZooRicky the rockhopper when shown to our staff. 

How to get your Penguin Pass:

1. Call 01582 871517 to book your pass
2. Pick it up at the Zoo’s Visitor Centre when you arrive
3. Have a brilliant day out
4. Return your pass to the Zoo Shop at the end of the day

Please note we only offer a limited amount of Penguin Passes per day so please do book in advance to avoid disappointment.

 

Assistance dogs

Assistance dogs are not currently permitted inside ZSL Whipsnade Zoo because we have free-roaming animals such as mara, wallabies, Chinese water deer and muntjac around our Zoo. They use all of the Zoo and therefore we are not able to offer routes to for assistance dogs at present. We are working with Guide Dogs UK to resolve this and hope to be able to welcome dogs to certain areas of the Zoo in the future. 

We do offer two kennels which are located in a quiet area at the entrance of the Zoo for assistance dogs to stay during your visit. Many dogs may not like being left all day in this new kennel with the smells and sounds of the Zoo so close so please contact our support centre in advance of your visit to make alternative arrangements on 0344 225 1826 or email generalenquiries@zsl.org.

 

Play

Hullabazoo Adventure play has a range of sensory and dynamic play equipment including water, sound and tactile play. 

The space is a very large area with quiet areas and natural planting. The play area is within a fenced area with access via multiple different gates. 

A video of the area can be seen here:

Hullabazoo Indoor Play

hullabazoo adventure play

The play area can get very busy. During very busy days, ZSL will operate a queuing system to ensure safe distances are able to be kept between families. At other times, we ask people to respect people in the play area.

The adventure play area is located alongside the train line and station. The train is a steam engine and will make noise when entering/exiting the station as well as emitting steam from the engine while moving. 

 

Quiet areas

ZSL Whipsnade Zoo is over 600 acres of space, the UK’s largest Zoo. We have many areas that are grass and large open areas as well as wooded areas. The area up by penguins is vast and can be very quiet, families are able to rest, picnic and explore these areas. 

Areas along the downs, opposite the White Rhinos enclosure are also quiet and spacious. 

If you need any support during the day, please do not hesitate to ask a member of staff (in green or blue uniforms) or a volunteer (in white uniform). 


Early Opening and Access to our events 

We understand that our Zoo can be a busy place, and our events can be quite loud for some of our visitors. That is why we run regular early-opening for people with additional needs. This will be advertised on our Events pages and are regularly advertised in conjunction with an event. The Zoo will open at 9am for people with Accessible tickets (these are free of charge and will need to be booked separately to your entry ticket). 

From 9am – 10am visitors with Early Opening Accessibility tickets will be able to access the Zoo but our retail and catering outlets will be open from 10am.

The next early, relaxed-opening event will take place on Sunday 26th September. Tickets will be available soon.

For blind or partially sighted visitors

Tickets

We offer free carer and blue badge car entry into our Zoo to help you get the most out of your visit. 

 

Assistance dogs

Assistance dogs are not currently permitted inside ZSL Whipsnade Zoo because we have free-roaming animals such as mara, wallabies, Chinese water deer and muntjac around our Zoo. They use all of the Zoo and therefore we are not able to offer routes to for assistance dogs at present. We are working with Guide Dogs UK to resolve this and hope to be able to welcome dogs to certain areas of the Zoo in the future. 
We do offer two kennels which are located in a quiet area at the entrance of the Zoo for assistance dogs to stay during your visit. Many dogs may not like being left all day in this new kennel with the smells and sounds of the Zoo so close so please contact our support centre in advance of your visit to make alternative arrangements on 0344 225 1826 or email generalenquiries@zsl.org.

 

High multi- sensory areas

The Zoo is full of smells and sounds to be enjoyed. The following areas are specifically sensory high:

  • Butterfly House
    • Warm, humid, indoor area that is soft underfoot and is immersive with butterflies.
  • Hullabazoo Farm
    • Goats can be stroked gently in our goat walkway
    • Chickens can be heard clucking freely while our roosters can be heard crowing noisily throughout the day
    • Donkeys and Shetland ponies are also walked throughout the day and can be stroked gently by visitors. The donkeys can also be heard from all around the Zoo.
  • Giraffe house is accessed by a gentle slope and the smell of our herd is quite pungent. 
  • More pungent smells can be found inside the elephant house, hippo house and zebra house. 
  • There is a chimpanzee statue at the Chimpanzee house which can be stroked. 

Play

Hullabazoo outdoor play has the following multi-sensory play equipment: 

  • Sand play access
  • Ramped bridge
  • Water play with pump 
  • Accessible slide
  • Flat accessible roundabout
  • Sound play
  • Wide carousel swing
  • Quiet areas

Hullabazoo indoor play 

  • Booking is required at the moment due to reduced capacity
  • Play area is for 10 years and younger
  • Sensory play such as ball pit and sound available
  • The toddler play area is accessible by wheelchair but all other areas are accessed by climbing apparatus. 
  • The café and seating area is fully accessible.
Free to feed Breastfeeding Campaign

ZSL Whipsnade Zoo is proud to be part of the #FreeToFeed campaign, supporting mothers while they visit ZSL Whipsnade Zoo. #FreeToFeed campaign sticker 2019

The #FreeToFeed campaign, run by Bedfordshire Community Health Services and Flying Start Luton with support from local authorities, is encouraging businesses to do their bit to help new mums feel comfortable breastfeeding their children when out and about.

We have become the 100th organisation to sign up, and are displaying window stickers in all of our restaurants and cafes as we're proud to endorse breastfeeding throughout the Zoo.

find out more about free to feed

More visitor information

With so much to see and do, a visit to ZSL Whipsnade Zoo is the perfect day out in Bedfordshire for people of all ages.

Our Visitor Information page has all the information you need to plan your day.