Re-opening FAQs

We are aware that many of you will have questions regarding the re-opening of Colchester Zoo. We have therefore tried to publish as much information as we can to keep you in the know.

Opening Times:

Colchester Zoo officially re-opened on Thursday 18th June.
Colchester Zoo will be opening the usual summer hours of 9.30am – 6.00pm with the last entry an hour and a half before closing.

Visitors must enter the Zoo during the 30-minute time slot that they have booked online in advance of their visit. Tickets can be purchased up to one hour prior to visiting and are available on a first-come first-served basis.

Upon parking at Colchester Zoo please remember to keep your distance from others.
There will not be a limit on the time that you can stay within the zoo, we just ask that you arrive at the time of your 30-minute time slot and adhere to the guidelines in place.

NB: The 30-minute time slot refers to your arrival time rather than the duration of your visit.

Safety Measures:

The health, safety and welfare of our staff, visitors and animals is our priority with the zoo now open. Please be assured that we are taking all the measures we can to ensure this.

🐾 Zoo Passholders can now visit the Zoo on weekdays without the need to pre-book and weekends after 1pm. If a Zoo Passholder would like to visit on a weekend or during school holidays BEFORE 1.00pm they MUST book their visit online to help manage capacity. All Passholder entry is dependant on capacity within the park. We may be required to work on a 1-out 1-in system as a safety precaution and we therefore cannot guarantee entry will be gained before zoo close if capacity does not allow.

🐾Visitors WITHOUT a valid Zoo Pass are required to book their visit online to help manage capacity. 

🐾Tickets are available in 30-minute slots to stagger arrival times and set at a capacity which allows social distancing within the park.

🐾 Staff are receiving daily health checks before starting work and wearing the relevant PPE. This will continue to happen to ensure both their safety and the welfare of visitors and animals alike. Staff have also receive additional training.

🐾Thorough and regular deep cleaning and disinfecting is being carried out across the zoo throughout the day.

🐾 Following Government Guidance in England, face coverings MUST be worn in ALL indoor buildings. This includes but is not limited to our Gift Shop, Guest Services, Catering Outlets, Indoor viewing areas and toilets. To read the full updated Government guidance for the public on wearing face coverings please click here.

🐾 We kindly ask all visitors to bring their own PPE including face coverings and follow personal hygiene regimes during their visit including washing hands regularly. We have face masks available to for visitors to purchase however this is limited therefore encourage visitors to bring their own.

🐾We have designed a Social Distance Route which is one-way where possible within the park and two-way where space allows. We kindly ask visitors to follow this route to avoid crowding and reduce paths crossing. There are areas which are two-way traffic to allow you to see as much of the park as possible but at a safe distance.

🐾Following COVID-19 secure guidelines we are unable to host visitors in groups of more than 6 in total, unless they are from the same household.

🐾There are demarcations on the floor wherever possible to assist with social distancing.

🐾 Signage is in place throughout the park to remind visitors to keep their distance from one another and to wash hands regularly.

🐾 We are encouraging visitors to use contactless payment whenever possible and kindly ask that cash is only used as a last resort. With the contactless limit being increased to £45.00 there should be limited need for pin entry. Our cash machine and cash back will not be available on the day of your visit.

🐾 Some indoor and walkthrough areas are open, however our indoor children’s play area remains closed. Face painting also remains closed until further notice.

🐾 Food and dining options are limited. All food at Colchester Zoo is freshly prepared on site by staff who will be in relevant PPE with their health checked daily so you can trust the food that you consume on a day out with us.

🐾 Our daily public keeper talks and feeds will not take place until further notice in order to prevent crowding. You can listen to some audio talks via our App.

To read our full health and safety document which you will receive upon booking your tickets please click here.

Whilst we are doing all we can to enable visitors to have a safe and enjoyable visit, it is the responsibility of our visitors to ensure they follow the guidelines to ensure their safety and others around them. Together we can ensure the zoo remains a safe place to visit for everyone.
Following Government Guidance in England, face coverings MUST be worn in ALL indoor buildings. This includes but is not limited to our Gift Shop, Guest Services, Catering Outlets, Indoor viewing areas and toilets.

We would also encourage visitors to wear face coverings outside during their visit. To read the full updated Government guidance for the public on wearing face coverings please click here.

Our staff will be wearing PPE to ensure their own safety and our visitors.

We are kindly asking all visitors to bring their own PPE and follow personal hygiene regimes during their visit including washing hands regularly. Additional hand sanitising stations are also going to be in place throughout the park.
We respectfully ask that you help us keep the zoo a virus free destination for all to enjoy. If you have any symptoms of COVID-19 please do not visit Colchester Zoo, please shield at home as per Government advice.

If you are in any way vulnerable, it is your responsibility to make the right choice for yourself and think of others around you. Again, we would urge everyone to refer to Government advice before making a decision to visit the zoo.

Ticket & Entry Queries:

All visitors MUST book online in advance of their visit. This will help us to manage the capacity within the park daily. Tickets are available in 30-minute time slots to help stagger visitor arrivals and manage the density of people on the designated route in the park.

Following COVID-19 secure guidelines we are unable to host visitors in groups of more than 6 in total, therefore it is not possible to book more than 6 tickets in one transaction. If you are from a household of more than 6 please make your booking in multiple transactions.

Tickets for all visitors are released in blocks in advance of your visit and you can purchase tickets up to 1 hour before your visit, subject to availability.

We ask that you make your purchase online via a computer or smart phone to assist us with capacity management and reduce the need of staff contact.
Our online admission prices have already been reduced and therefore no further admission discounts are currently available. This includes Tesco Vouchers and Zoo Passholder discounts until further notice.
The hire of manual wheelchairs and scooters is available but these must be pre-booked at least 24hrs in advance of your visit. All equipment will be thoroughly cleaned after every use.

Unfortunately we are currently unable to offer buggies until further notice.

For more information on hires please click here.  

Zoo Passholders:

Zoo Passholders can now visit on weekdays without the need to pre-book as well as AFTER 1pm on weekends. If you would like to visit BEFORE 1.00pm on weekends you MUST pre-book your (free) ticket online in advance of your visit the same as paying visitors do to help us manage the number of visitors in the park and arrival times. Passholder entry is dependant on capacity within the park. We may be required to work on a 1-out 1-in system as a safety precaution and we therefore cannot guarantee entry will be gained before zoo close if capacity does not allow

Tickets are released in blocks please click here to find out when tickets are available. You can purchase tickets up to 1 hour before your visit when the tickets are available.

We ask that you make your booking online via a computer or smart phone to assist us with capacity management and reduce the need of staff contact.

On arrival you must show your valid Zoo Pass and pre-booked ticket.
All Zoo Passes that expired from the 1st March 2020 have automatically been given an extension period of 1 month gratuity and the amount of time the zoo has closed in correlation to your original expiry date. Your physical Zoo Pass will not be reprinted but your pass will scan on the gate until your new expiry date.

However, if you opted to donate your months membership to the zoo your Zoo Pass will not have received this extension.

If your pass is expired and you would like to renew your pass you have 3 options but please note 15% consecutive renewal was only available within 4 weeks of our reopening (18th June) for those with passes which expired during closure;

Option 1 – Purchase a Zoo Pass Renewal online. Once purchase is complete, pre-book a passholder entry ticket online for the date and time of arrival for your visit. Upon arriving at the zoo you can then redeem your Zoo Pass Renewal at Guest Services (which is now situated at the main entrance building). Please note that if you opt for this option, you must collect your Zoo Pass prior to entering the park.

Option 2 – Pre-book a passholder entry ticket online for the date and time of arrival for your visit. Upon arriving at the zoo you can then renew your passes at Guest Services (which is now situated at the main entrance building). Please note that if you opt for this option, you must complete the renewal prior to entering the park.

Option 3 – Pre-book a paid online day ticket for the date and time of arrival for your visit. Upon arriving at the zoo you can then upgrade this entry ticket to a Zoo Pass Renewal at our Guest Services office either before your visit or at the end of your visit. An upgrade means we will reduce the price of your renewal by the amount you have paid for your entry ticket.

Areas within the Zoo:

The Outpost Gift Shop is open. We kindly ask that visitors to the shop refrain from touching items they are not purchasing and follow the social distancing measures we are putting in place for your safety.

Following Government Guidance in England, face coverings MUST be worn when visiting our Gift Shop. To read the full updated Government guidance for the public on wearing face coverings please click here.
We are offering our Animal Experiences.

We are working hard to reschedule those animal experiences which we had to postpone due to COVID-19 and new bookings are now also being taken.
Toilet facilities will be available on your visit however we have closed some toilet facilities to allow our cleaning staff more time to regularly deep clean and disinfect open facilities.

Following Government Guidance in England, face coverings MUST be worn in all indoor areas. To read the full updated Government guidance for the public on wearing face coverings please click here.
The majority of our indoor buildings have now re-opened with 1m+ social distancing.

Following Government Guidance in England, face coverings MUST be worn in all indoor areas. To read the full updated Government guidance for the public on wearing face coverings please click here.
Our outdoor adventure play areas have re-opened for children to enjoy however it is vitally important that all children are supervised and social distancing is enforced by guardians. A new cleaning routine will be implemented to ensure the play areas are thoroughly cleaned and disinfected regularly throughout the day.

Please note that our indoor play area Jungle Tumble remains closed.
We are operating a number of catering facilities within the park, although the number of outlets are reduced and dining options limited.

Demarcations on the floor at our outlets to enable social distancing and a separate in and out system in place wherever possible. Queues will be managed where appropriate.

All food that is available is freshly prepared on site by staff who will be in relevant PPE with their health checked daily so you can trust the food that you consume on a day out with us.

Southern Kitchen and Penguini’s Restaurant now have limited seating available inside, with distancing rules still applying. All other outlets are available as take-away only until further notice.

Dining tables will be situated outside where possible and placed apart to enable social distancing. We ask visitors not to move tables for the health and safety of yourselves and others.

Following Government Guidance in England, face coverings MUST be worn in all indoor areas. To read the full updated Government guidance for the public on wearing face coverings please click here.
Our Lost Madagascar Express Road Train is running following the installation of perspex screens onto the carriages to ensure visitor safety. The train will not run at full capacity and will not stop at our lemur walk-through enclosure until further notice.

Supporting Colchester Zoo:

Although Colchester Zoo has re-opened, we are not able to welcome the same number of visitors to what we are used to until normality returns. Therefore, income will still be limited and much less than what we are used to. Although we can reduce outgoings, we are only able to reduce a certain amount as we have to continue to offer the high standard of care which we have always provided to our animals.

The closure period has really hit Colchester Zoo hard and it will be a long time before the park is back in the position it was before COVID-19 therefore although it has been a struggle during closure, hard times are set to continue for a while, especially during the Winter months.

Your support is critical now more than ever – to find out more and how to donate please click here.


Have an unanswered question?

We have tried to publish as much information as we can to reassure you that your safety along with our staff and animals is paramount.

If you still have a question please feel free to get in touch with our team at enquiries@colchesterzoo.org and we will do our best to answer your query but we do ask for your patience and understanding for any delays experienced whilst we are working hard to prepare the park for re-opening.

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