Detroit Zoo Safety Guidelines & Updates

Please note: Details are evolving, check this page often for any updates.

Welcome back to the Detroit Zoo! It’s time to emerge from hibernation. You can come out of your den, stretch your legs, and get your dose of Vitamin Z at the Detroit Zoo. There are a few safety guidelines and Zoo updates we would like you to review prior to your arrival. Our goal is to provide a great Zoo experience in an environment that is as safe as possible for all. We all have a part to play; a shared responsibility is necessary in order to maintain the health and safety of our guests, staff and endangered animals.

First, we want to say thank you — not just for your support during this tough time, but for your active engagement with us over the last few months. We’ve loved seeing all of your notes and posts and participation with us on social media. The Detroit Zoological Society (DZS) loves our Zoo community and truly appreciates all of you.

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The DZS has automatically extended all Detroit Zoo memberships by three months. If you would like to purchase a membership or renew, click here.  Please note: Temporarily, due to the pandemic and capacity limits within the Detroit Zoo, purchasing a membership does not guarantee you will be able to select any time and date slot to visit. While you may see openings for general admission tickets, that may not necessarily mean membership slots are available for those same dates and times. General admission tickets are available in order to give people who may not be able to afford a membership a chance to visit. However, we continue to open up date and time slots for members each day.


-All guests are required to schedule their time slot on our website prior to their visit so that we can maintain capacity limits and ensure touchless transactions. Reservations can be made up to two weeks in advance and can be booked here. In addition to member reservations, general visitor ticket reservations are also open. At this time, members will only be able to make reservations for the people currently listed on their membership. Due to limited capacity, we also ask that members only book a reservation once every two weeks for the time being to allow other members the opportunity to visit. A limited number of general admission tickets will also be available at the gate each day with pricing of $15 per child or senior, and $19 per adult.

-The DZS is limiting capacity at the Detroit Zoo over our 125 acres. We will be closely monitoring the situation and decide when to increase capacity limits in the days and weeks ahead.

-After scheduling your visit, you will receive an email with your digital ticket, safety details and a digital map, as the Zoo will not be providing paper maps. Please check your spam folder if you do not receive your tickets after making a reservation. While in the Zoo, you are expected to observe the DZS’s safety practices, which follow mandates and guidelines from the state, county, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, World Health Organization and other experts. They are posted throughout the Zoo and include wearing face coverings, following posted routes of circulation, maintaining physical distancing and adhering to personal hygiene requirements.

-Please plan to show your ID, membership card (if applicable) and digital, or printed, timed ticket receipt and parking receipt at the Zoo admission booth.

-Masks are in this year. Wear yours.

  • We all have a shared responsibility to keep guests, volunteers, staff and the animals who live here safe. Guests who do not comply with the Detroit Zoo’s policies may be escorted from the Zoo.
  • Unless otherwise prevented by a medical condition, the Detroit Zoological Society requires that all guests 5 and older wear a mask at all times while at the Zoo, including inside Zoo buildings and restrooms, and when less than six feet from other guests, staff and volunteers – especially when passing others on the pathways throughout the Zoo.
  • Face masks must fit properly and securely cover your mouth and nose. Face masks with vents or valves are not permitted as they do not help prevent the spread of the virus, according to the CDC. Face shields are not accepted as substitutes for masks, but they may be worn as an added layer of protection.
  • Face masks are for sale at the Detroit Zoo’s Zoofari Market.
  • Guests may temporarily remove their masks when they are more than six feet from others not in their party, and when eating and drinking.
  • As individuals infected with Covid can often be “asymptomatic” and still spread the virus, we encourage individuals who cannot wear a mask to rethink their Zoo visit.
  • In order to protect other guests, staff and volunteers, guests who cannot wear a mask should minimize their time in indoor spaces, and must maintain at least six feet from other guests, staff and volunteers while outdoors.
  • Enjoy our weekly Zooper Hero posts on the Detroit Zoo’s Facebook page featuring guests of all ages sporting their masks. Share your picture with us from your last visit to the Zoo for a chance to be featured!

It is our goal to make the Zoo experience one that is safe for our visitors, staff and animals. Let’s work together.  Please be respectful, help each other and help protect the endangered animals.


-Due to the pandemic, the members-only entrance at Rackham Fountain is temporarily closed. All guests must enter through the main admission gates at the front of the Zoo.

-Parking is available in the surface lots and only the ground level of the parking structure so you won’t need to touch elevator controls or stair rails.

-When you arrive at the entry booths, expect single-line queuing with physical distancing markers. We ask that you maintain at least 6 feet between groups or individuals.

-Please show your ID and membership card (if applicable) before presenting your digital or printed timed ticket to the booth attendant, who will scan it.


-Enhanced cleaning procedures are in place. You may notice our Clean Team disinfecting areas regularly around the Zoo.

-Keep an eye out for visual markers to help you maintain the proper 6-foot distance from other individuals and groups at habitats, and other signage reminding you of safety guidelines.

-Utilize the 100 accessible hand sanitizing and handwashing stations located at the entry booths and throughout the Zoo.

-Explore Zoo Treks for information about the animals and the habitats.

-Visitors are strictly prohibited from feeding any animal at the Detroit Zoo. Animals have specialized and nutritionally balanced diets, and throwing food and other objects into habitats risks their health and safety. Guests who violate this rule will be escorted from the Zoo.

-Please pay attention to the signs around the Zoo alerting you to any temporary closures as well as all the safety guidelines:

  • EXPERIENCE UPDATES: Essentially all outdoor areas of the Zoo are accessible with the exception of the playgrounds. The Holtzman Wildlife Foundation Red Panda Forest canopy walkway, prairie dog bubbles, and giraffe viewing deck are unavailable. However, red pandas, polar bears, wolves,  rhinos, prairie dogs, and giraffes are all viewable from regular public pathways. Some indoor spaces, including the Matilda R. Wilson Free Flight Aviary, National Amphibian Conservation Center, Holden Reptile Conservation Center and the Great Apes of Harambee building, are open to visitors with capacity limits in place. The State of Michigan requires that all guests 5 and older wear face masks while walking through the indoor spaces.  Rides are currently unavailable and will reopen in phases.
  • RESTROOMS: Restrooms will have exterior doors propped open. Attendants will be monitoring capacity limits and disinfecting the facilities regularly. Closing every other toilet stall or urinal has been done to ensure guests maintain physical distancing in restrooms.
  • FOOD AND GIFT OPTIONS: Buddy’s Pizza is open daily with outdoor seating allowing for physical distancing of at least 10 feet between groups. Walkup food locations: American Coney Island, Boardwalk Station, Dippin’ Dots and Cup & Cone, are also open. The Zoofari Market is open and online ordering is also available. Credit or debit cards are strongly preferred as means of payment to reduce transmission risk of handling cash.


-Please dispose of your gloves, masks and other personal items in the proper waste receptacles.


Most public events are canceled or postponed for the time being. The Detroit Zoological Society is utilizing virtual opportunities for engaging the community, including virtual events and remote learning programs. Due to health concerns and limited staffing, Safari Camps are cancelled this year. To move a camp reservation to next year, donate a reservation to DZS or receive a full refund, contact Customer Care at or 248-541-5717 ext. 3304. Check out Virtual Ventures for free self-paced virtual camps including exciting animal-related content, expert interviews, hands-on activities, and much more.


Knowledge regarding potential susceptibility of animals to COVID-19 continues to emerge, and DZS protocols adapt to include new information as it is available. We are taking proactive measures to limit any potential risk to animals who live at the Detroit Zoo as we continue to properly care for them. The DZS staff is wearing personal protective equipment while caring for certain species. It is now known that lions and tigers in one U.S. zoo have contracted COVID-19 infections. In addition, current understanding of potential susceptibility of other species in zoos to infection by COVID-19, based on a number of academic studies of this and related viruses, suggests that they may be susceptible. Guests may notice a few temporary barriers in areas that might present a risk of transmission of COVID-19 from a guest to an animal. We appreciate your cooperation and understanding as we work to keep the animals at the Zoo healthy.


The safety protocols and reopening information were developed after reviewing scientific data, consulting with health experts, local officials and other zoos around the world. As a visitor, you are required to follow all of the safety guidelines established by the Detroit Zoological Society. COVID-19 is a new disease that is highly contagious and can cause severe illness and even death. Older adults and people who have underlying illnesses may be at greater risk for severe illness if they contract COVID-19, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. There is still a risk of becoming infected with COVID-19 while in outdoor areas with other people, though it has been established that viruses do not, in general, survive sunlight/UV radiation for very long. When you visit the grounds of the Detroit Zoo, or any other public place, you are accepting there is a risk of exposure to COVID-19.

To limit the spread of COVID-19, everyone must share the responsibility of following safety guidelines to help keep themselves and others safe. When you make the choice to visit the Detroit Zoo, you represent that you are not experiencing COVID-19 symptoms, have not tested positive for COVID-19 within the last two weeks and have not been in direct personal contact with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19 within the last two weeks. While in the Zoo, you are expected to observe the DZS’s safety guidelines that are derived from the CDC, WHO and other experts. They are outlined above and posted throughout the Zoo and include wearing face coverings, following posted routes of circulation, physical distancing and adhering to sanitization requirements.

The reopening information and detailed safety protocols listed here will be constantly reviewed and revised. Please check back often for updates. We appreciate your understanding and cooperation as we work to bring YOU back to the Zoo.