Advice for Vulnerable Visitors
We appreciate everyone is at a different stage of fear and worry at this unsettling time. While we have done our best to put measures in place to keep everyone safe, there is only so much we can do.
If you’re vulnerable, have been shielding or are particularly concerned, we’ve put together some extra advice for you here.
We’ve been working hard to reopen in a way that will make you feel safe and comfortable, complying with and often going far beyond UK Government guidelines. You can read about everything we’re doing here, but some of the measures include:
- Clear signage around the park to encourage social distancing.
- One Way routes in narrow areas.
- Limited capacity in indoor viewing areas.
- All of our staff will be wearing PPE around the park.
- Vastly increased sanitising and disinfecting routines.
While we are currently operating at around 45% of our usual Summer capacity, we understand that this can still feel busy to some people.
We’ve been taking on board any and all visitor feedback we’ve received and have implemented some extra measures to help those who may feel most vulnerable:
- We’ve opened additional parking areas to allow you to park at a distance from others, should you wish to.
- We've opened up an additional pathway into the zoo that used to be a staff only access road to ease potential congestion by the cafe.
- We’ve introduced “Popular Area” signage advising what times certain areas may be a little quieter.
That being said, we aren’t able to police every visitor that comes into the zoo and we do ask that all visitors take responsibility for their own actions. We’ve built an experience that is safe and comfortable for those visitors who are happy visiting potentially crowded areas, interacting with strangers and being out in public.
We appreciate that everyone is at a different stage of fear and worry at this unsettling time. If you aren’t comfortable in crowded areas, are anxious about queueing or are concerned that others may not keep their distance from you, we have a few suggestions that might help you feel more at ease:
- Arrive later in the day
We find that most of our visitors arrive between 10am and 12pm. This means our Main Entrance will be busier, as well as the key areas people like to visit first – mainly Project Elephant Base Camp, Dinosaur Safari and the Big Cats. If you’re able to arrive in the early afternoon, you will find the park is much quieter.
- Visit less popular areas first
There is a main route which we find most visitors take through the zoo (as explained above). If you arrive and head towards the end of the zoo where our Aardvarks live, you might find it’s a little quieter. You can then enjoy the popular areas later in the day when most people are heading home.
- Bring a picnic or have a late lunch
One key area where numbers of visitors tend to gather is around our Catering outlets at peak times. If you’re able to bring food with you, or perhaps treat yourself to a late lunch, you’ll likely find these areas are much quieter.
- Visit later in the year
We appreciate this might not be what you want to hear, but if you are able to, perhaps delaying your visit until later in the year may give you a better experience. We anticipate things will quieten down towards the Autumn as many people resume their normal daily routines of school and work.
- Protect yourself
While it’s not compulsory to wear a face mask or face covering when you are in the zoo (with the exception of indoor catering and retail areas), it may help you feel more at ease around other people if you are able to take steps to protect yourself. Hand Sanitiser is available around the park and while we do have staff continually checking that they are all working and full, the most reliable option is always to bring your own.
- Ask our staff for help
Our new Visitor Services Team are here to help you have a safe and enjoyable day out. If you’re concerned, feel free to ask them a question. Chances are they can tell you the quietest time to see a Red Panda, or direct you to some of our hidden gems in the quiet corners of the zoo.
- Help us get better
We’re still learning every day and we have a whole team of staff working to continually improve the visitor experience, signage around the park and safety measures in place, but we need your help. If you spot a sanitising station that isn’t working or an area that would benefit from more signs, please do let us know.
We’d like to thank you for your patience and understanding at this time. Our team have worked hard throughout lockdown and beyond to ensure that not only do we keep our animals happy and healthy, but our visitors too. We’ve never opened a zoo in a pandemic before and are doing our very best to ensure all everyone can feel safe and comfortable, whilst also enjoying a small glimpse of normality and the joy that a zoo visit can bring.
You can read more about what we're doing to keep our visitors, staff and animals safe here.