Reopening FAQs

Are you open?

Bristol Zoo Gardens reopened on Tuesday 14 July 2020, with a new timed ticket system – pre-purchasing and pre-booking timed tickets is essential.

Like many organisations, we have been taking a phased approach to reopening, with Wild Place Project reopening in June and Bristol Zoo in July.

By its very nature, Wild Place Project has a lot of open space with approximately 50 acres of the park accessible to visitors, and therefore we made the decision to reopen Wild Place ahead of Bristol Zoo Gardens.

 We want to thank you for your patience. It was important to us that we took the time before reopening to successfully implement new measures to ensure the safety of our visitors, staff and volunteers. Our new systems are now in place and we are delighted to be reopening!

Members, Annual Pass holders, and those with tickets purchased prior to lockdown will have received information (during the week commencing 6 July) on how to book a visit.

We are anticipating that we will be very busy with enquiries and bookings on our website, so please bear with us at this time.

What changes have you made to make sure a visit to Bristol Zoo Gardens is safe?

Together we can ensure everyone has a safe and enjoyable visit to Bristol Zoo Gardens.

To ensure the safety of our visitors and staff, additional measures will be in place during your visit. It is essential that you read and fully understand our Site Rules, which are available on our website, on booking, and on site at Wild Place.

  • All visits MUST be purchased or booked online ahead of coming to the site. This includes Member visits. No tickets are available to buy at Bristol Zoo Gardens. If you do not have a timed entry ticket booked, you will be respectfully turned away.
  • We are operating a timed ticket system to stagger the arrival time of visitors throughout the day so that we can manage capacity and maintain social distancing.
  • We have also limited the number of tickets available each day and have put in place a one-way system to aid social distancing. Download a map here.
  • We are operating on a completely cashless basis. No transactions can take place on site at the entrance. You are required to show your booking confirmation number, Membership and Dual Membership Card(s) on arrival.
  • Additional hand wash facilities have been installed throughout the Zoo and we ask that you wash your hands regularly during your visit in line with Government guidance.
  • Onsite cleaners are in place ensuring that the toilets are kept clean. We have enhanced our cleaning regime and cleaning checks.
  • We have changed our opening time to 10am. This allows us more time in the morning to prepare the site for our visitors.
  • We ask that for your safety, that of other visitors, and our staff and volunteers, that you respect the signage on site and maintain social distancing of 2 metres. This is vital to ensure everyone’s health and wellbeing.
  • We have implemented a set of Site Rules, which explains The Ways we are Keeping You Safe and How You can Help Keep Everyone Safe.
  • Some areas, including playgrounds and some of our indoor houses remain closed. These closures are in place where social distancing is not currently possible to ensure your and other visitors’ safety. A full list is available here.

Please be aware that the number of timed entry tickets available is strictly limited, and we cannot make any exceptions on the day.

Together we can ensure everyone has a safe and enjoyable visit to Bristol Zoo Gardens.

How does the rule of 6 impact my visit?

The Government has announced new laws in relation to groups of people meeting up. The information below is taken directly from the Government guidelines: 

From Monday 14 September, when meeting friends and family you do not live with you must not meet in a group of more than 6 indoors or outdoors. 

From 14 September – when the new rules apply – it will be against the law to meet people you do not live with in a group larger than 6 (unless you are meeting as a household or support bubble). The police will have the powers to enforce these legal limits, including to issue fines (fixed penalty notice) of £100, doubling for further breaches up to a maximum of £3,200. 

Does the Rule of 6 apply in Zoos?

Yes this applies in Zoos – however as we are following COVID-19 secure guidelines we are able to host more people in total on site – just not in groups of more than 6. 

Does the Rule of 6 apply to children?

Yes, it does. Please refer to Government guidelines for any exemptions.

I want to make a booking for more than 6 for ZooRopia. Does the Rule of 6 apply?

Yes, it does.

What do the Government guidelines state? 

The information below is taken directly from the Government guidelines:

Venues following COVID-19 secure guidelines will be able to continue to host more people in total – such as religious services in places of worship – but no one should visit in a group of greater than 6. When you visit one of these places, such as a pub, shop, leisure venue, restaurant or place of worship you should:

• Follow the limits on the number of other people you should meet with as a group – no more than six people unless you all live together (or are in the same support bubble)

• Avoid social interaction with anyone outside the group you are with, even if you see other people you know

• Provide your contact details to the organiser so that you can be contacted if needed by the NHS Test and Trace programme

Are there any exemptions to the Rule of 6?

Yes, there are exemptions. Please see the Government guidelines for up-to-date details.

What happens if people have booked for a group larger than 6, before the changes were announced and before they came into place?

We have contacted everyone who has booked for a group of more than 6, to let them know of the changes and we have offered them a refund for any additional tickets (over the 6 limit).

To help maintain social distancing, we have not been taking bookings from larger coach or similar groups. We have also not been taking bookings for Birthday Parties.

Please contact the Visitor Experience Team by emailing info@bristolzoo.org.uk if you have not received our email or require any further information (not already covered in these FAQs or our Site Rules).

What are you doing in response to the changes to Test and Trace?

We have already been part of the Test and Trace scheme and through the existing online booking process we have been collecting information on the ‘lead booker’. 

However, all visitors will be required to provide contact details from 18 September 2020.

We will be asking visitors to provide contact details at admissions. Initially this will be a simple form, which visitors can either complete at admissions or download, complete in advance, and hand in at admissions. However, we are looking into how we can make improvements to this, for example through the online booking system if possible.

What are you doing to communicate the changes to visitors?

We are contacting all those who have booked by email to ensure they are aware of the new laws. We have also:

• Updated our Site Rules

• Updated our T&Cs

• Sent an enewsletter to Annual Pass Holders, Members and Dual Members

• Posted on our social media 

• Added the information to our ticketing pages

• Added the Test and Trace information on the booking confirmation with a link to download the form, so visitors can complete this in advance of their visit and bring it with them to admissions

• Updated our signage, and posters, at admissions


Why have you implemented a one-way route?

We have implemented a one-way route at Bristol Zoo to ensure that visitors are able to maintain the 2-metre social distancing requirements.

The majority of paths and walkways at Bristol Zoo are not wide enough to allow groups to pass comfortably whilst maintaining a 2-metre space and therefore we have implemented a one-way route.

Why have you changed your opening hours?

We now open at 10am, which allows us additional time in the morning to prepare the Zoo to ensure we are able to welcome visitors safely. A 10am opening time is in line with most visitor attractions.

Why do we need to maintain 2-metre social distancing? I thought the new Government guidance was 1-metre-plus after 4 July 2020?

The Government advice remains to keep 2 metres apart where possible, and 1-metre-plus only refers to when mitigations are in place such as screens. As it is not possible to have mitigations in place throughout the Zoo, we are reminding visitors to remain 2 metres apart and maintain social distancing for everyone’s safety.

Do I need to wear a face covering when visiting?

From Saturday 8 August, you MUST wear a face covering in all enclosed spaces at the Zoo in line with Government guidance, unless you are exempt by law.

This includes our entrance and exit which is through our retail building, animal houses and all other indoor and enclosed spaces including toilets. Please remember to bring your face covering with you as there are places along the one way route that are enclosed, where there is no alternative route available.

Please see our map for more information.

Are you accepting cash?

We are currently operating a cash-free site to help us eliminate as many contact points as possible and minimise the risk to our visitors and staff. All tickets must be booked online in advance and therefore no transactions will take place at admissions. We are taking contactless card payments only in our gift shop and food outlets.

How long can I stay at Bristol Zoo Gardens?

Your booked time, is your arrival time – but you are free to stay as long as you wish until closure.

Please note: the Zoo closes at 5.30pm.

When are tickets being released?

During the initial phase of reopening, we will be releasing tickets on a rolling two-week basis. We will not be pre-advertising the exact time the ticket slots will be released for sale, so as to help prevent technical issues. We anticipate that demand may be high and we have taken steps to anticipate potentially higher volumes of website traffic, but we must also try to reduce the pressure on our website to ensure people are able to successfully organise their visit.

Do Members and Corporate Members need to book?

Yes, all visits to Bristol Zoo, must now be booked online, in advance. A strictly limited number of tickets are available each day to ensure that everyone has the space to enjoy the Zoo safely.

It is therefore essential that all visitors, including Dual Members, Members and Corporate Members book online in advance of their visit. A dedicated booking page has been set up and you will be required to show your booking reference and Membership card on arrival to validate your ticket.

You will have already received information by email on how to book, which contains more information.

Whilst we appreciate that some visitors may find this inconvenient, this change is essential to ensure we are able to maintain social-distancing measures for the benefit of everyone and we are asking Members for their understanding at this time.

What do I do if I can’t remember my Membership number?

Please make sure you have the Membership numbers for all your group before starting to buy your tickets.

If you don’t have the Membership numbers of those you’re trying to book for, please email us on info@bristolzoo.org.uk. To help us process your email quicker please send us the full names of all Members, and first line of your address. This helps us to find the Membership numbers you need.

We are receiving a high number of email enquiries, and are responding to them as quickly as we can. Thank you for your patience and understanding.

Whilst I’m waiting for my Membership numbers, can I buy timed tickets and then request a refund when I have my numbers? I don’t want to lose out.

Please do not ‘hold’ a time slot by buying tickets and then asking us for a refund after you have all the Membership numbers you need.

Please only book your timed entry slot once you have all your Membership numbers.

Our tickets are non-refundable.

I’m a Member and I’ve booked to visit on multiple occasions. Do I have to turn up for them all?

Yes, we ask that you turn up for all your booked slots. If you book and do not visit then you are unfortunately stopping others from visiting and limiting the revenue we can generate to care for the animals and carry out our conservation work.

Can I move my booking to another day or time?

Due to the number of enquiries we receive, and the need for our team to welcome and manage visitors on site, we are currently unable to move bookings to an alternative date or time.

Can I have a refund if the weather is wet, or too hot?

Our tickets are non-refundable and we won’t issue refunds if the weather is too wet or hot. We are confident that you can have a wonderful time, whatever the weather!

Will I be allowed on site if I have a booking, but it’s not for the right entry time or date?

You will not be permitted to enter if you arrive at a different date / time from your booking and allocated timed entry slot, and you will be asked to leave. Due to the restrictions on the number of visitors we are permitted at Bristol Zoo, we are unable to allow people to enter with tickets for the wrong date or time.

Do I need to book tickets for everybody in my group?

Yes. All members of your group need to have a ticket before arriving on site. Due to the restrictions on the number of visitors we are permitted on site, it is important that we do not exceed the capacity for each timed entry slot.

What areas remain closed?

Some areas including the Reptile House, Forest of Birds, Bug World, Twilight, Lemur Walkthrough, Butterfly House, ZooRopia, all playgrounds, and indoor eating areas, will not be opening initially. We will only reopen these areas when it is deemed safe to do so, and will ensure that all updates are on our website.

Some areas will remain closed because it is impossible to maintain social distancing at present in those locations, or because they include, by their nature, multiple high-frequency touch points.

Similarly, our ‘interactive’ displays and the Activity Centre will be out of use to minimise ‘touch points’ and we will not be holding our daily Animal Talks, so as to ensure crowds do not form.

Whilst we appreciate that these closures may disappoint some visitors, safety must remain the top priority for us all.

Will the shop be open?

Yes, the shop will be open, but a one-way route will be in operation and we ask visitors to refrain from touching items they do not intend to purchase. 

We have reduced the number of products available to purchase, but our most popular items are still available. 

If you do not wish to browse in our shop, there is an alternative direct exit route available. 

Will the cafés and kiosks be open?

A range of takeaway hot and cold drinks and tasty food are available from The Hide restaurant and our kiosks. 

  • The Hide Restaurant (takeaway)
    Our rotational menu includes simple dishes such as pasta, salads, pizzas and, chips, kids meals as well, hot and cold drinks, and scrumptious cakes. Open from 11.30am to 3pm. Check the menu board for daily updates.

  • Pasty Shack (takeaway)
    Choose from a selection of pasties, sandwiches, and hot/cold drinks, as well as ice creams and confectionery.

  • Hungry Monkey (takeaway)
    The Hungry Monkey kiosk is the ideal stop for rumbling tums, with hot dogs, sandwiches and hot and cold drinks, When the sun comes out you can also grab a soft scoop ice cream too! Kids bags and confectionery is also available.

There are no indoor eating spaces open at this time, and we have moved the benches and tables around site to support our visitors to socially distance. The Hide is not currently open. 

Bring a picnic and head over to the lawns, but please make sure you pick up any rubbish afterwards and take it home with you.

We are accepting contactless card payments only.

What happens if I start to experience Coronavirus symptoms, or need to start self-isolating, after I have pre-purchased my ticket?

If you start to display symptoms of Coronavirus, or begin a period of self-isolation after you have booked your ticket, we will happily rearrange your visit for an alternative date and time. Email us at info@bristolzoo.org.uk with your booking confirmation number and your name.

I have a ticket that I bought prior to lockdown – I was told that it was valid for 12 months – now what do I do? 

Since you have purchased your ticket, we have implemented a new timed ticket system to ensure that everyone is able to access the site safely, creating a staggered arrival time and allow us to carefully manage any potential queues at admissions.

Tickets that have expired whilst we have been closed will be extended for the duration of the closure period. For example, we have been closed for 17 weeks and therefore you have an additional 17 weeks to redeem your ticket.

You will have already received an email from us with further instructions as to how you can book a timed ticket.

If you have not received an email, please contact us on info@bristolzoo.org.uk.  

Please be aware that the number of timed tickets available are strictly limited.

Please do not arrive at the Zoo without a timed ticket slot as you will be turned away.

I have a complimentary ticket / gift voucher / free ticket with my Animal Adoption, do I need to book in advance?

Yes, however you will not be able to book online at this time. To book your timed ticket please email info@bristolzoo.org.uk.

Please be aware that the number of timed tickets available is strictly limited, and we are unable to process requests at short notice, so please contact us well ahead of your preferred date.

Availability is not guaranteed due to the capacity limits in place, so we recommend checking availability online, prior to contacting us to book.

Please do not arrive at the Zoo without a timed ticket slot, as you will be turned away.

You will be required to surrender your voucher or complimentary ticket on arrival – full details will be provided on your booking confirmation.

How are you protecting the animals? Can Zoo animals catch COVID-19?

None of our animals are displaying any symptoms of Coronavirus. To date there has been no evidence to suggest that the majority of zoo animals are susceptible to COVID-19.

However, as a precaution, we have been taking additional biosecurity measures with certain animals including big cats and non-human primates as well as some other animals in our care. In some cases, we have moved barriers to increase the distance between animals and visitors.

We are liaising with other zoos to ensure we have the latest information available and will continue to monitor the situation. No animals at Bristol Zoo or Wild Place are showing any evidence of having contracted Coronavirus and our veterinary team will remain vigilant.

When will The Lodge reopen?

Given the ongoing uncertainty caused by Coronavirus, we have taken the decision to not open The Lodge for the rest of 2020.

We have contacted those who were planning on staying with us this year, but if you had a booking and have not received our email or have any questions regarding your booking please contact info@bristolzoo.org.uk.

When will ‘Animal Experiences’ start again?

Our Animal Experiences, by their very nature, are ‘hands-on’ interactive sessions and we are firm in our approach to restart Experiences only when it is safe to do so for our visitors, colleagues and animals. 

Please accept our sincere apologies for the disappointment that this will cause – we know how popular these activities are with our visitors, but we appreciate your patience during these unprecedented times.

A member of the team will be in contact to rearrange your Experience for a mutually convenient time when more is known.

What is the BZS Appeal?

We may be reopening, but we still need your help. We are certainly not ‘out of the water’ and we are taking every day, very much, one step at a time. 

We have been closed since March, and with 85% of our income coming from our visitors, this has had a significant impact on our resources. As a charity, this is money we depend on to fund our conservation projects in the UK and overseas.

There is no doubt that we will continue to feel the impact for months, if not years to come.

We still need your support to ensure a healthy future for Bristol Zoological Society, so, please visit our Virgin Giving page and contribute to the Bristol Zoological Society’s BZS Appeal, if you can.

I have a further query, how do I get in contact?

Please email the team on info@bristolzoo.org.uk with your query and contact details, and we will come back to you as soon as we can.

I have sent an email but haven’t yet received a reply.

Thank you for contacting us, but please bear with us as we endeavour to work through email requests during these unprecedented times. We will be in contact as soon as we can, and in the meantime thank you for your patience and understanding.

Please also see our FAQs page for general information. Read our general FAQs.
























Pre-book and pre-purchase your timed tickets

Book Now

Pre-book and pre-purchase your timed tickets