Welcome and thank you for considering a visit to Colchester Zoo. We pride ourselves on welcoming all guests and making your visit as easy and as enjoyable as we can.
Colchester zoo covers over 60 acres with gardens and a lake.
All the information listed below is to help you plan your visit. It is our attempt to let you know about the zoo before you visit, providing as much information as we can, helping you to decide whether Colchester Zoo is right for you.
• Toilets: There are accessible toilets around the zoo, including in the car park and just inside the zoo grounds – we have a Changing Places facility accessed by Radar Key.
• Queues: Some areas of the zoo require you to wait in queues that can be quite lengthy and noisy at busy periods – we have a system and team members in place to help with this.
• Ear defenders: These may be useful and appropriate in noisy queues and exhibits. The entrance building and Australian Rainbows walkthrough can be particularly noisy.
• Assistance dogs: Dogs are permitted into the zoo. Therapy dogs are not permitted, please refer to Assistance Dogs section.
• Procedures: We have evacuation procedures and safe refuges in place with trained colleagues who will support you in case of an emergency – please cooperate and follow their direction.
• Doors: We have many glass doors – the majority of which are marked with transfers.
• Enclosures: We have many glass enclosures fronts – the majority of these are not marked and many do not have any obvious barrier in front them.
• Pathways: Pathways can have bumps and rockery edges that are uneven.
• Plantation: Natural hedging is used around some areas and can obstruct views from wheelchairs.
• Payment: Most of our ticket office, shops and catering facilities have contactless card readers for payments up to £100, over this amount you will need to insert your card and enter your PIN.
• Staff: We have numbers of colleagues and zoo hosts who have been trained to understand and respond to accessibility and other issues associated with inclusion and diversity. They will be pleased to assist you if you make your needs known to them.
• Information and interpretation boards: These are situated near animal enclosures and carry facts and information about the species. If you need these to be explained, please locate a member of our team and they will do their best to assist you with this.
• Animal Encounters: We have a daily programme of animal talks from keepers and this is usually a good time to see the animals closer and ask any questions you have. The talks are delivered via a loudspeaker however, if you have accessibility issues, please do let a member of the team know and we will try to assist you. We have Audio Encounters to support some of our animal encounters – https://www.colchester-zoo.com/discover/audio-encounters/
• Giraffe and Elephant Feeding Experiences: They are fully accessible but you should book in advance. These feeds and the majority, but not all, of other Experiences that we offer may be adapted to be accessible subject to the specific requirements of the guests and the area where the experience takes place. Please refer to the Animal Experiences section.
Getting to Colchester Zoo and Parking
Essex CO3 0SL
• Colchester Zoo is located just south of Colchester.
• Take the A1124 exit (Junction 26) off the main A12 following the brown elephant
signs and using the Stanway Western Bypass.
• Car parking is free and accessible car parking spaces are available close to the
• Please display your Blue badges when you use the accessible parking area.
• The main car park surface is grass however, the accessible parking area is on
• During peak periods the car park may get full – please make a member
of colleagues aware of your needs and they will do all they can to identify a suitable space for you.
By public transport
• You can get to Colchester Zoo by bus No 75 from Colchester Bus Station
• The zoo is on the outskirts of town and public transport can be unpredictable
• You can get a taxi from various local taxi services that also have wheelchair
Blue Badges must be properly displayed on the dashboard of the vehicle with the side showing the wheelchair symbol facing forward.
There is level access from the accessible parking spaces to the zoo main entrance building.
There are accessible toilets in the car park.
The zoo main entrance, ticket gates, Guest Services and Experiences Reception all have level access and lowered ticket desks and onward access into the zoo main grounds.
All tills and counters at Guest Services are fitted with loop systems and staff are trained to be autism friendly.
Any guest with a disability will be required to purchase the relevant adult, child or senior admission ticket, online in advance to enter the zoo. Colchester Zoo will then admit an assistant FREE of charge, upon request when verification of disability is shown. Please have these available when you arrive at the zoo.
Click here for admission ticket information.
Any guest with a disability will be required to purchase the relevant adult, child or senior Zoo Pass.
Forms of Verification:
• Blue Badge
• PIP Letter
• Current Disability Living Allowance Letter
Click here for Gold Pass prices
We have a facility to hire a limited number of manual wheelchairs and electric scooters inside the zoo grounds next to the zoo main entrance.
All hires must be pre-booked at least 24hrs in advance before your visit.
• Manual wheelchair hire: £5.00
A £20 returnable deposit will be required on the day of your visit in order for the wheelchair to be released to you. (deposit price is per wheelchair)
• Mobility Scooter hire: £25.00
A £30 returnable deposit will be required on the day of your visit in order for the scooter to be released to you. (deposit price is per scooter)
If you would like to hire a wheelchair or electric mobility scooter, please email our team on firstname.lastname@example.org
Please be aware that until a confirmation from our team is received, an enquiry is not a confirmed booking due to the high demand. Mobility scooters are available for hire by those over 18 years ONLY.
• Medium Locker. 4 hours £3.00 or 8 hours £5.00
• Large Locker. 4 hours £6.00 or 8 hours £10.00
Access around the Zoo
We aim to be accessible to guests however, we also want to be honest with you. The terrain is naturally hilly (very hilly) in some places with many slopes and some steep hills. The majority of the paths around the zoo can be accessed by wheelchair and have a variety of hard surface types from block paving, decking board and concrete / tarmacadam.
There are numerous benches and eating areas around our zoo where you can take a rest.
We have one very steep hill near the main office building (redbrick house) that we clearly mark as NOT BEING SUITABLE for wheelchairs and mobility scooters.
Due to the extra demand the hills make on mobility scooter batteries, please make sure they are fully charged for your visit.
If you have any questions regarding accessibility, or if you have suggestions that will help us improve our facilities, please let us know by contacting the relevant department.
• We have several accessible toilets around the zoo.
• Changing Places facility is available near Meerkat Hangout and is accessible via Radar Key.
• All of our shops are accessible. Please refer to the shopping section.
• Jungle Tumble. Please refer to the shopping section.
• Train Station. Please note the Lost Madagascar Express Train has an accessible carriage.
• Kalahari Theatre.
• Sensation Station.
• All of catering outlets.
The zoo is an exciting place full of noise, information, customers, different levels of lighting etc. however, we understand that these can present some difficulties for guests who have autism and their families or personal assistants. We do our best to understand these issues and have a number of Autism Friendly trained team members (they will be wearing a badge) who will do their best to assist you. You may wish to bring ear defenders to use in some places.
Areas of the zoo that you may wish to take note of are –
• Entrance building: This area can be very busy, noisy and congested. It is also a very brightly lit, open space that can be overwhelming. You may find ear defenders are useful in this area.
• Jungle Tumble indoor play area: This is always busy and noisy with children playing and screaming with excitement. There is a small refreshment kiosk facility in the building. There are also accessible toilets. You may find ear defenders are useful in this area.
NOTE: There is a Health and Safety requirement that socks are worn at all times in this play area so it may be useful to plan for this ahead of visiting.
• Elephant and Giraffe feeding experiences: Our feeding experiences must be booked in advance. If you require assistance, please speak to a member of the zoo team who will let you know what options are available to support your experience.
• Australian Rainbows: Both our Australian Rainbows (lorikeet free flying enclosure) and our Chimpanzee Lookout animals can, and do, make loud noises. You may find ear defenders are useful in this area.
• Quiet Zones: The zoo has several designated ‘quiet zones’ please refer to the Accessible Guide and Map.
• Face Painting Station: Occasional queues as very popular. Please speak with a zoo host or Jungle Tumble manager if special requirements are needed.
• Exit: The zoo exit is via The Outpost Gift shop. This is a very busy environment with many stimulation items and sounds. If you would prefer to leave the zoo by an alternative exit, please speak to a colleague who will be pleased to assist you.
If you become aware of any other information that would have assisted your visit, please contact email@example.com
The majority of our team have disability awareness training via an ongoing professional development programme
Some staff and volunteers have basic Makaton and BSL training.
We have a printed guide of our Lost Madagascar Train commentary – please speak to the train driver on the day of your visit.
We recommend that you be accompanied by an assistant dog or sighted guide. Please refer to Assistance Dogs section.
There are accessible parking bays near the zoo entrance, if you have visual impairment, it is worth letting the car park marshals know so they can assist you in locating a space.
If you need assistance during your visit, please make a member of our team aware.
Download LARGE PRINT FORM / STANDARD PRINT FORM
Therapy or Comfort Dogs:
These are rather general terms and often used to describe a dog that is used to benefit people in a therapeutic way. This incorporates quite a wide range of potential activities with a wide range of potential people and guests. Some pets take part in visiting programmes, whilst others take part in structured activities as part of a therapeutic programme or practice. Therapy dogs in the UK are not considered to be assistance dogs. This is because an assistance dog is trained to perform specific tasks to help a disabled person and are usually qualified by one of the charitable organisations registered as members of Assistance Dogs UK.
Ref : The Society for Companion Animal Studies
Dogs In Cars:
We do not allow dogs to be left in cars, even with ventilation and water. Anyone found leaving dogs in their car will not be granted admission. We take this very seriously and take our lead from the RSPCA.
If you require assistance with waiting in line, then please let a team member know and they will explain how they may be able to assist you. This will usually be giving you the option of waiting in the area, within sight of the team, until the majority of the queue has been served. We will call you forward for a more relaxed experience. It is your responsibility to make a member of our team aware.
You also have the option of queuing with all others guests and you remain in control of that decision however, experience tells us the former option usually is preferred by guests. Please be aware that it’s unlikely that you will be moved to the front of the queue ahead of other guests.
All sets of toilets around Colchester Zoo and at our cafes have toilet facilities for those with disability.
Changing Places Facility:
A registered Changing Places changing facility is available for those with additional needs at the toilet facilities near the meerkat enclosure.
The key features of a Changing Places facility are:
– It can be accessed using a radar key
– A height adjustable changing bench
– Ceiling track hoist (a sling is NOT provided and will need to be brought with you on your visit)
– Space for more than one assistant
This facility is intended for radar key holders only. If you do not have a key and require use of this facility please ask a member of staff at the Meerkat Hangout catering facility or Guest Services for assistance.
For the full terms and conditions of using this facility please click here. For more information on Changing Places please visit www.changing-places.org
We have a great range of catering facilities around the zoo. Some of these close seasonally, please check ahead of your visit.
All of our restaurants and catering facilities have a full description of ingredient available in case of guests with allergies. PLEASE MAKE COLLEAGUES AWARE OF ANY ALLERGIES WHEN ORDERING FOOD.
Our catering facilities do not have audible menus however, please speak to a member of our team and they will be pleased to assist you in making a selection from the menu, along with collecting food and taking it to a table. We do not have menus in large print however, our staff will be pleased to discuss our menu options.
Our Animal Experiences offer the unique opportunity to get closer to our animals and learn more about them from our Animal Care Team! We want everyone to have the opportunity to take part in these fantastic experiences and will do all we can to make that possible.
We do need your understanding that in some situations, depending upon the specific mobility needs, animal species and accessibility of their enclosure, this is sadly just not possible.
If you, or someone you support has specific needs and their need for assistance can be verified, please speak to a member of our team discuss each of the experiences by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 01206 331292 ext. 222
We have produced an online, downloadable visual social story (click here and it will open in a new window). This has been designed with the intent of helping caregivers of individuals with autism and other specific needs to make the most of a visit to Colchester Zoo. It can, however, be utilised by anyone.
Sensory Exploration Trail
We have produced two downloadable sensory trails designed to help you explore the zoo. There is a longer version which includes exploration around the entire zoo (click here and the long sensory trail will open in a new window). There is also a shorter version which focuses just on exploring the Familiar Friends farm section of the zoo (click here and the short sensory trial will open in a new window).
* The Entrance Kiosks and Guest Services are fitted with an induction loop hearing system. Please advise a member of staff and switch your hearing aid to T.
* All commercial staff have a pad and pen with them to be able to assist with communicating with deaf people and the very hard of hearing. Please indicate to staff if you would like to use this option.
Please note that some users of some double and triple pushchairs may experience problems in accessing some of our standard single doorways.
Inclusion and diversity champion – 01206 331292 ext. 222
General Information – Guest Services 01206 331292 ext. 227, 228, 230