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 outdoor 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 animals.

As we prepare to reopen the Zoo to members only by reservation on Monday, June 8, 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.

Book Reservations

YOUR MEMBERSHIP

The DZS has automatically extended all Detroit Zoo memberships by three months. If you would like to purchase a membership or renew, click here. We thank you for your support during these unprecedented times.

BEFORE YOU ARRIVE

-Members will have exclusive opportunities to visit the Detroit Zoo during a four-day soft reopening period.

-All members must 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 booked here. For the first few weeks, members will only be able to make reservations for the people currently listed on their membership. General visitor ticket reservations will also open up early next week for visits June 12 onward. Reservations can be made up to two weeks in advance.

-Initially, the DZS will be limiting capacity at the Detroit Zoo to 1,000 guests per day over our 125 acres. No more than 500 guests will be permitted on the Zoo grounds at any one time. We will be monitoring and decide when to increase the capacity limit to 2,000 per day.

-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. 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 a personal mask, following posted routes of circulation, maintaining physical distancing, and adhering to personal hygiene requirements.

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

-Masks are in this year. Wear yours. All Detroit Zoo visitors (2 and up) – unless otherwise prevented by a medical condition – will be expected to wear a face mask or shield in order to help maintain the safety of all visitors, staff and animals. This is important for the safety of the animals living here as well as for humans.*

  • Face masks will be available for purchase outside of the main admission gate entrance.
  • There will be open, grassy areas designated for visitors to take a brief break from wearing their masks.

*Since we launched our new safety guidelines, we’ve noticed commentary regarding our mask expectation. In order to protect the animals, guests and staff, we expect visitors to wear a mask to help prevent the inadvertent spread of the virus. It appears several exotic animal species may be susceptible to COVID-19, not just big cats. We made the mask decision after careful consideration and consulting with officials and health experts. We are also doing our part to follow current recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. As recommendations change, adjustments will be made accordingly.

While the goal is to maintain 6 feet of physical distance at all times, that can be challenging in some areas of the Zoo. Wearing a mask can help protect others and the animals when you unintentionally get too close. Some other points we’d like to reiterate:
  1. You don’t have to wear a mask if you have a medical condition that prevents you from doing so.
  2. You can remove the mask briefly if you are not in close proximity to other people or habitats.
  3. You can take the mask off temporarily while eating.
  4. If you have a child, talk to them about wearing a mask and how it can help prevent the spread of germs to other people and the animals. Ask them to participate. Try.

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 animals. We’re trying to do the right thing even as we are losing millions each month. To us, it’s always safety before revenue. We appreciate those who are willing to do what they can to protect us all, animals included.

AS YOU ARRIVE

-The members-only entrance at Rackham Fountain is currently closed. All guests must enter through the main admission gates at the front of the Zoo.

-Parking will be 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 before presenting your digital or printed timed ticket to the booth attendant, who will scan it.

AROUND THE DETROIT ZOO

-Enhanced cleaning procedures will be in place as we reopen. 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.

-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. Indoor viewing areas, including but not limited to the Barn, Wildlife Interpretive Gallery and the Butterfly Garden, will be unavailable to guests in the beginning. The Holtzman Wildlife Foundation Red Panda Forest canopy walkway, prairie dog bubbles, and giraffe viewing deck will be closed. However, red pandas, polar bears, wolves, barn animals, great apes, rhinos, prairie dogs, and giraffes are all viewable from regular public pathways. When the Tauber Family Railroad opens, it will operate with modifications to ensure safe physical distancing for all riders. The train will operate at a reduced capacity, platform waiting areas have physical distancing markers, and passenger cars will be sanitized after every ride. Other rides will open 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 will be open with outside seating allowing for physical distancing of at least 10 feet between groups. Walkup food locations: Pure Greens, Boardwalk Station, American Coney Island, Dippin’ Dots and Cup & Cone, will also be open. The Zoofari Market will be closed, but there will be outdoor kiosk carts for merchandise, and online ordering is also available. Credit or debit cards are strongly preferred as means of payment to reduce transmission risk of handling cash.

WHEN YOU LEAVE THE DETROIT ZOO

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

EVENTS & CAMPS

All public events are canceled or postponed through at least mid-July. 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 info@dzs.org or 248-541-5717 ext. 3304.

ANIMAL CARE

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.

COVID-19 WARNING

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 a personal mask, 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.