Elmwood Park Zoo welcomes guests of all ability levels, and is dedicated to making every visit special. Our goal is to make our zoo more inclusive, and we welcome suggestions to help us grow and learn. Please feel free to email us your thoughts at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Guests with Developmental Disabilities and Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD)
In May of 2018 Elmwood Park Zoo became the first zoo in the world to earn certification as a Certified Autism Center. The designation, given by the International Board of Credentialing and Continuing Education Standards (IBCCES), is awarded to organizations who have completed a training and review process with the goal to better serve individuals with autism and other sensory needs. The following is a list of helpful information for individuals and families wishing to plan their visit.
The Elmwood Park Zoo offers the opportunity for our guests with special needs and their family to enjoy early or late entry to the zoo. This is a great opportunity to enjoy the zoo in a relaxing setting before it opens to the general public or after hours. There will be some friendly animals to meet and our zoo staff will be available for questions and assistance.
The next early and late access dates can be found on our events calendar.
The events do require pre-registration.
Thanks to Geiger and Crazy Aaron’s, Elmwood Park Zoo guests have access to complimentary daily-use Sensory Packs. The backpack includes noise canceling headphones, fidget toys, a stress ball, thinking putty and laminated copies of EPZ’s Social Story, sensory map, and sensory guide.
Guests may request a sensory backpack upon their arrival at the Admissions window. Guests must provide the zoo with a valid ID. The zoo will hold this ID until the backpack is returned.
Helpful Tips for your Visit
- The zoo and the Nature Shop are open year round.
- Restrooms are located in the Nature Shop, the Trail of the Jaguar exhibit, and under the Wildlife Lodge located near Petrucci’s Ice Cream. The restrooms have automatic hand dryers that can be very loud. Ask any EPZ employee and they can supply you with paper towels to avoid the hand dryers.
- To avoid large crowds, visit the zoo during non-peak times. For a quieter visit, join us on a cool, rainy day or after 1:30pm when the zoo is generally less crowded.
- The Nature Shop and our indoor exhibits, including the Trail of the Jaguar and the Wildlife Lodge have the potential to be very loud. The playground and Eagle’s Nest playground can also become very crowded and noisy.
- Our Birds of Paradise exhibit features free-flying birds (sun conures and canary-winged parakeets), and the noise levels can get high inside and directly outside the exhibit.
- Electric scooters and strollers (while supplies last) are available for rent at the front admissions booth. A form of collateral (a government-issued identification card, driver’s license, etc.) is required to be held by Guest Services staff until the electric scooters are returned.
- A multi-purpose quiet space is available for guests. It is located behind the bison exhibit, directly across from the prairie dogs.
- All service animals must be checked in at Guest Services prior to entry. Service dogs are not permitted on the giraffe feeding deck, the bison feeding deck, barnyard, or the Birds of Paradise exhibit.
- Complementary noise-cancelling headphones are available to guests at the front admissions booth while supplies last. A form of collateral (a government-issued identification card, driver’s license, etc.) is required to be held by Guest Services staff until the noise-cancelling headphones are returned.
- A free Wild Encounter animal show occurs daily at 1:45pm from Memorial Day to Labor Day located in the Zoo Bowl Theater, weather permitting.
- You can purchase giraffe feeding or bison feeding tickets at the front admissions booth, as well as at our Nature Shop, ticket kiosk, or at the feedings during the schedule feeding times. Feedings are weather permitting and times are subject to change.
- Our giraffe feeding area has an elevated deck/platform that requires walking up a flight of stairs, as well as a lower deck that is wheelchair accessible. Standard giraffe feedings typically occur on the elevated deck. If you or a member of your party requires use of our lower-deck, please inform a Guest Services staff member or a zookeeper so that we can accommodate you. Bison feedings do not have an elevated platform, and the feeding deck is wheelchair accessible.
- Personal care attendants and one-on-one aides accompanying those with special needs are not required to pay admission to the zoo, nor are they required to purchase tickets for our giraffe & bison feedings if they are not interested in feeding themselves. When purchasing these tickets, please inform a Guest Services staff member that you are a personal care attendant or one-on-one aid so that you are not charged.
A dedicated quiet space is located across from the Prairie Dog exhibit on the south facing side of the Bison exhibit. This quiet space has gate access and available seating.
Limited Mobility Guest Assistance
Motorized Scooter Rentals
Guests may request a motorized scooter upon their arrival at the Admissions window. Scooters are available on a first-come, first-served basis. In addition to a $15 rental fee, guests must provide the zoo with a valid ID. The zoo will hold this ID until the scooter is returned.
The zoo and its exhibits are wheelchair and stroller accessible, but due to the slope of the landscape, some paths are more accessible than others. Use the Accessibility Map to help plan your visit.
Guests with Service Animals
Guests requiring service animals are permitted to enter the zoo. Their permission is at the zoo’s discretion based on guidelines set forth by the ADA. Service animals are not pets; they are trained to perform specific tasks for their owner. Service animals entering the zoo must remain on a leash or a harness at all times and may not be left unattended. Guests are required to clean-up all defecation from their service animals while at the zoo. Guests with service animals must check in at the admissions counter before gaining entry. Guests may request a free membership card for their service animal for repeat visits. Because of animal safety concerns, service animals are not permitted in the Birds of Paradise exhibit, the barn, and the giraffe and bison feeding decks. Zoo staff will be happy work with guests that wish to enter these areas to make arrangements to accommodate their visit.
Guests Who Are Blind or Have Low Vision
The zoo offers a limited number of free guided tours for guests with visual impairments. These tours must be pre-registered. To register for a tour please email email@example.com.
If you have any questions about accessibility, or prefer to make arrangements prior to your arrival, please call Guest Services at 800.652.4143 x 241.
Parking is free. Handicap spaces are located adjacent to the ramp and handrail in the lower lot. Bus spaces are located adjacent to the ball field staircase in the extended lower lot. Buses for school groups and field trips are required to park along Harding Blvd. and enter the zoo through its South Gate. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
Single Stroller $5.00
Double Stroller $8.00
Restrooms are located inside the Nature Shop building, just outside the Trail of the Jaguar exhibit and on the ground floor of the building adjacent to the playground entrance. All restrooms are wheelchair accessible.
An ATM machine is located inside the Nature Shop.
First Aid/Lost and Found
First Aid is available at the zoo’s main admission window and throughout different locations in the zoo. Guests are also encouraged to ask any zoo employee for assistance, especially in the event of an emergency. Lost and recovered items will be collected and can be retrieved from the Security booth located at the zoo’s main gate.