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Zoo Guidelines

Zoo Guidelines

    General North Carolina Zoo Rules

    To ensure a safe and enjoyable experience for all of our guests, staff, volunteers and animals, please respect the following rules:

    We reserve the right to deny admission or require a person already admitted to leave the Zoo, without refund, liability or compensation, for failure to comply with any of these rules or policies, for unsafe, illegal or offensive behavior in order to ensure safety, security or order, or if we consider that the circumstances otherwise so require, in our sole and absolute discretion.

    • The North Carolina Zoo is a smoke-free facility.  The smoking of tobacco, e-cigarettes, vapes or other products that produce a vapor or smoke is not permitted inside the Zoo.  
    • Guests under the age of 16 must be accompanied by a guest 16 years or older for entry to the Zoo. Supervise children at all times.
    • Please keep the Zoo clean by placing all litter in the proper trash, recycling and compost receptacles.
    • We reserve the right to not allow any bag, parcel or other item to be brought into the Zoo, and to deal with any unattended object in such a way as we consider appropriate.
    • Access varies per attraction. Please see information, rules and restrictions posted at each attraction site. 
    • Obey all posted signs. The Zoo requires all guests to remain on designated pathways at all times. Climbing or crossing barriers or entering restricted areas is prohibited. Habitats and enclosures are designed to protect visitors and animals from harm.
    • Feeding, chasing and teasing the animals is strictly prohibited. Do not tap on glass or shout at animals, including those that are free roaming.
    • Backpacks that are used as camera bags, diaper bags or purses are permitted. All bags are subject to be searched by Zoo staff. (Students visiting the Zoo on a field trip are not allowed to carry backpacks into the Zoo).
    • We offer a variety of food at our restaurants and concession stands and we ask that you do not bring outside food into the Zoo. The following are permitted: sealed bottled non-alcoholic beverages, small snacks;  baby food/formula; a personal refillable water bottle; empty pre-purchased North Carolina Zoo souvenir cups; and food required for medical or special dietary purposes.
    • We allow small coolers or insulated bags that contain approved beverages, small snacks, baby formula or baby food.  All bags and coolers are subject to be searched by Zoo staff.
    • We do not allow picnic-style meals, large coolers and branded outside food (McDonalds for example) inside the Zoo. Guests are welcome to enjoy these items at one of our picnic areas prior to entering the Zoo.  If you exit to picnic during your visit please check in with an admissions team member to have your hand stamped for same-day reentry.
    • Grilling is not permitted at the picnic areas or in our parking lots.
    • We allow Tricycle- style strollers ONLY if the steering and pedaling features are disengaged/locked and the child is unable to steer or pedal the vehicle on their own.
    • We are not responsible for loss or damage of belongings or property, consistent with applicable law.

    Prohibited Items

    • Alcoholic Beverages
    • Balloons, balls or other athletic equipment
    • Large coolers or rolling bags (see Zoo rules above for more information)
    • Firearms, ammunition, knives and weapons of any kind, concealed or otherwise
    • Glass Containers
    • Horns, whistles, radios, megaphones or any other artificial noise makers
    • Marijuana (including marijuana enriched products) or any illegal substances
    • Objects or toys that appear to be firearms or weapons
    • Pets
    • Picnic style meals or outside branded food items.
    • Plastic disposable straws
    • Recreational devices such as drones, remote-control toys, skateboards, hoverboards, scooters, skates, bicycles, tricycles or shoes with built in wheels.  
    • Self-defense or restraining devices (i.e. mace or pepper spray)
    • Tricycle style strollers (unless steering and pedaling features are disengaged)
    • Wheeled mobility devices with less than 3 wheels or that cannot maintain stability and balance without the use of a kickstand.  Training wheels or other modifications are not permitted.  .
    • Any trailer-like object that is pushed, pulled or towed by an electric convenience vehicle, wheelchair, stroller or person.

    Prohibited Activities

    • The sale of goods or services, or the display of goods or services unless prior written approval from the Zoo has been obtained.
    • The distribution of printed or recorded materials of any kind unless prior written approval from the Zoo has been obtained.
    • Engaging in an unsafe act or other act that may impede the operation of the Zoo.
    • Unauthorized access or entry into a behind-the-scenes animal or operations area designated only for Zoo staff and volunteers.
    • Unauthorized events, performances, speeches or use of any flag, banner, sign or otherwise engaging in an activity, for unapproved commercial use.
    • Unauthorized solicitations of any kind, whether commercial, religious, educational or otherwise, or conducting in any unauthorized commercial activities, including solicitations or money or other contributions or donations.
    • Obstructing sidewalks, entrances, pathways, driveways or plazas.

    Admissions Policies

    • There are no refunds or rain checks offered due to animal availability or weather conditions.
    • Advance Tickets purchased online are valid for the date range printed on them only.
    • Membership cards, passes and other entitlements are non-transferable.
    • For same day re-entry please see a member of the admissions team to have your hand stamped before exiting to the parking lot or picnic areas.

    Guest Courtesy and Attire Policies

    • Please show common courtesy to fellow guests and Zoo staff and volunteers by not using profanity or engaging in unsafe, illegal, disruptive or offensive behaviors, jumping lines or saving places in lines for others.
    • Proper attire, including shoes and shirts, must be worn at all times.
    • We reserve the right to deny admission to or remove any person wearing attire that we consider inappropriate or attire that could detract from the experience of other guests.
    • Costumed characters are not allowed in the Zoo unless the person is an approved contractor of the Zoo.
    • Costumes, full face masks, and face paint may not be worn by guests ages 13 or older.

    For the month of October ONLY:

    • Costumes must be family-friendly; No scary costumes or costumes that expose excessive portions of skin that may be viewed as inappropriate in a family environment.
    • For participants 13 and older, costumes, masks, makeup or face paint cannot cover the face. Small embellishments are okay.
    • Costumes should not contain any weapons which resemble or could be mistaken for an actual weapon.
    • Costumes must be safe to be worn throughout the Zoo. Costume should not drag on the ground, or contain sharp objects or material that may accidentally strike another person.

    Animal Policies

    • Feeding, petting, touching, harassing or harming any wildlife, including native squirrels, snakes and birds, is prohibited.
    • Pets or other animals (except service animals) are prohibited from entering the Zoo. The Zoo does not offer pet boarding facilities. We discourage guests from bringing pets and leaving them in parked vehicles. Distressed pets will be removed from vehicles. 
    • Service animals are permitted to enter the Zoo. A service animal is a dog or miniature horse that is trained to do work or perform tasks for, and to assist an individual with a disability.  All other animals, including emotional support, comfort, therapy or companion animals are not considered service animals according to the Americans with Disabilities Act. 
    • Service animals should remain on a leash or harness (no retractable leashes) and under control of the owner at all times.  Due to the nature of some attractions and animal experiences, service animals may not be permitted.
    • Service animals are not allowed in the water - including water features/fountains such as the stream located in KidZone.