Zoo accessibility and inclusivity
We encourage and welcome everyone to enjoy time connecting with wildlife at our Zoos. Our goal is to create an experience that is accessible for people of all needs and abilities. This commitment to accessibility has us working with local people and specialist organisations to learn how we can improve and make positive changes to ensure every visitor has a wonderful experience.
Hard to reach areas
Some substrates and paths around the Zoo can be difficult to manage in a wheelchair or if you have mobility issues. The key areas to note are:
- Subway between external car park and entrance to the Zoo (please use your blue badge pass to gain car entry to the Zoo if needed)
- Elephant car park – this is a loose substrate area and can be very bumpy
- Elephant access from our greater one-horned rhinos – this is a grassy path which during winter months can be prone to flooding.
- Path from Base Camp to flamingos – this is a steep path if you are going up towards flamingos.
- Owl wood – bark chip is down to minimise the noise for these animals that are sensitive to noise. Because of this, pushing on this substrate may be more difficult.
There is an underpass that gets visitors from the external free car park to the entrance of the Zoo. This is ramped but is a steep ramp out of the underpass.
There is level ramp access to the following areas:
- All animal indoor houses including the Butterfly House and Aquarium
- Base Camp Restaurant and Viewpoint Kitchen and Deli
- Birds of the World Arena to view the displays
- Hullabazoo Indoor Play
- Hullabazoo Adventure Play
- Hullabazoo Farm
- First Aid Point (next to the Visitor Centre)
- The steam train (Please note, two wheelchairs can be accommodated on the train per trip)
- Owl Wood - Access may cause wheelchair users some difficulty, as it is covered by bark chippings in order to subdue the noise.
- Events marquee
- We have a limited number of wheelchairs that are available for hire on a first-come, first-served basis and it is therefore advised to book them in advance of your visit by calling the Retail Shop on 01582 871517. A deposit of £25 is required which will be refunded on return of the wheelchair at the end of your visit.
- The wheelchairs are non-motorised and are not self-propelling.
- It is also possible to hire a mobility scooter, and again we'd recommend booking in advance of your visit. A mobility scooter will cost £20 to hire, plus a refundable deposit of £30.
- Pre-booked mobility scooters and wheelchairs are held for collection until 1pm, after which time they are re-released to others who may be in need of them on the day.
Micro trikes and pushchairs
- Pushchairs and micro trikes are available to hire from the gift shop at the Zoo.
- The single buggies are £10 to hire and we take a £15 refundable deposit.
- The double buggies are £15 to hire and we take a £15 refundable deposit.
- Micro Trikes are available to hire for toddlers for just £10 (£15 refundable deposit applies).
We understand that our Zoo can be a busy place, and our events can be quite loud for some of our visitors. That is why we run regular early-opening on the last Sunday of each month* dates for people with additional needs. This will be advertised on our daily events page and are regularly advertised in conjunction with an event. The Zoo will open at 9am for people with accessible tickets (these are free of charge and will need to be booked separately to your entry ticket).
From 9am – 10am, visitors with Relaxed Opening accessibility tickets will be able to access the Zoo but our retail and catering outlets will be open from 10am.
* some months the date of the relaxed opening will differ to link into zoo events.
We are also trialing relaxed sessions in Hullabazoo, our indoor soft play. These sessions have a reduced capacity and no music to make for a relaxed atmosphere for those with additional needs will benefit from a quieter and calmer atmosphere.
Sessions are free to book, but valid ZSL membership or Zoo entry tickets must be held to allow entry to the Zoo.
These sessions are currently being offered at weekends, 9.30-10.15am. Sessions will be released 24 hours in advance of their start time and can be booked below. By booking one of these sessions you will be allowed access to Hullabazoo at 9.30am, but will not be able to access the rest of the Zoo until 10am.
Wheelchair accessible toilets can be found at:
- Main entrance (RADAR key access; RADAR key available in shop if required)
- Lawn area before Butterfly House/Aquarium
- Tigers/Base Camp
- Reindeer/Viewpoint Kitchen and Deli
- Hippos/Africa Outpost
Changing Place Facility (CPF)
- Thanks to funding from the Levelling Up fund, we have worked with Central Bedfordshire Council, Muscular Dystrophy UK and Changing Places to install a new Changing Place Facility at Whipsnade Zoo.
- What is the Changing Place Facility (CPF) for and what is available inside? It is a Changing Places Facility which includes a hoist on a track, a movable toilet and sink, a shower and cleaning facilities. Changing places is a country-wide network for children or adults who are unable to access other toilet facilities.
Where is the CPF located? It is located in the toilet area at the entrance to the Butterfly House.
Is there Blue Badge holder parking nearby? Yes, there is parking directly outside the Butterfly House or in our Hullabazoo car park which is adjacent to the Butterfly House.
Do I need a key to access the CPF? Yes, the CPF is accessed through the use of a RADAR key. If you do not have a RADAR key, these are available in Hullabazoo and Visitor Centre.
Assistance dogs are not currently permitted inside Whipsnade Zoo because we have free-roaming animals such as mara, wallabies, Chinese water deer and muntjac around our Zoo. They use all of the Zoo and therefore we are not able to offer routes to for assistance dogs at present. We are working with Guide Dogs UK to resolve this and hope to be able to welcome dogs to certain areas of the Zoo in the future. If you would like to get in touch to discuss anything further, please do so on 0344 225 1826 or email [email protected].
When visiting Whipsnade Zoo by car there are two options:
- You may park in our free external car park with designated Accessible parking bays and push around the Zoo
- You may drive into the Zoo and park in specified areas around the Zoo (if you have a blue badge, essential car entry is free of charge).
An essential carer is also optional, free of charge, for you to enjoy the Zoo with the support that you need. Please note Whipsnade Zoo is not a safari park.
Prices for additional tickets can be found here.
Information about parking can be found here:
Supporting families with additional needs, the Penguin Pass queue hopper gives families the opportunity to hop queues at the Zoo.
There is no need to book your pass for Whipsnade Zoo, simply download and print the pass or download onto your phone for a more discreet option. We also have passes available to collect on arrival from our admissions team, please return your pass to the main Zoo shop at the end of your visit.
Show your Penguin Pass to our team at admissions, retail or catering outlets and our walk-through exhibits. Our staff & volunteers will do their best to reduce your queueing time.
We offer free carer and blue badge car entry into our Zoo to help you get the most out of your visit.
Adult and child guests who are registered disabled are entitled to our disabled adult or child ticket rates. An essential carer enters free with each ticket. To collect the essential carer ticket, please make sure you bring along your supporting documents that shows you require a carer as well as a copy of your ticket that you have purchased in advance. These may include the following:
- Disability Allowance Letter
- PIP letter
- Freedom pass
- Any other appropriate supporting documentation as issued by your local authority
High multi-sensory areas
The Zoo is full of smells and sounds to be enjoyed. The following areas are specifically sensory high:
- Butterfly House
- Warm, humid, indoor area that is soft underfoot and is immersive with butterflies.
- Hullabazoo Farm
- Goats can be stroked gently in our goat walkway
- Chickens can be heard clucking freely while our roosters can be heard crowing noisily throughout the day
- Donkeys and Shetland ponies are also walked throughout the day and can be stroked gently by visitors. The donkeys can also be heard from all around the Zoo.
- The giraffe house is accessed by a gentle slope and the smell of our herd is quite pungent.
- More pungent smells can be found inside the elephant house, hippo house and zebra house.
- There is a chimpanzee statue at the chimpanzee house which can be stroked.
- Whipsnade Zoo has over 600 acres of space and is the UK’s largest Zoo. We have many areas that are grass and large open areas as well as wooded areas. The area up by our penguins is vast and can be very quiet. Families are able to rest, picnic and explore these areas.
- Areas along the Downs, opposite the white rhino enclosure, are also quiet and spacious.
- If you need any support during the day, please do not hesitate to ask a member of staff (in green or blue uniforms) or a volunteer (in red uniform).
Hullabazoo Adventure Play
Hullabazoo Adventure Play, our outdoor play area, has a range of sensory and dynamic play equipment including water, sound and tactile play.
The space is a very large area with quiet areas and natural planting. The play area is within a fenced area with access via multiple different gates.
The adventure play area is located alongside the train line and station. The train is a steam engine and will make noise when entering/exiting the station as well as emitting steam from the engine while moving.
It has the following accessible, multi-sensory play equipment:
- Ramped sand play access
- Ramp bridge
- Water pump at height
- Accessible slide
- Flat accessible roundabout
- Sound play
- Wide carousel swing
- Quiet areas
Hullabazoo Indoor Play
Our indoor play area, Hullabazoo Indoor Play, can be booked 24 hours in advance of your visit.
- The main play area is for 10 years and younger.
- Sensory play such as ball pit and sound available.
- The toddler play area is accessible by wheelchair but all other areas are accessed by climbing apparatus.
- The café and seating area is fully accessible.
Whipsnade Zoo is proud to be part of the #FreeToFeed campaign, supporting mothers while they visit Whipsnade Zoo.
The #FreeToFeed campaign, run by Bedfordshire Community Health Services and Flying Start Luton with support from local authorities, is encouraging businesses to do their bit to help new mums feel comfortable breastfeeding their children when out and about.
We have become the 100th organisation to sign up, and are displaying window stickers in all of our restaurants and cafes as we're proud to endorse breastfeeding throughout the Zoo.