San Diego Zoo — What to Expect for COVID-19 Safety

The San Diego Zoo is one of the city’s most treasured jewels. According to Travel + Leisure magazine, more than 3.2 million animal enthusiasts visit the zoo every year, making it one of the top local attractions for locals and travelers alike. And, even though the Zoo has had to make some necessary adjustments in order to help mitigate the spread of COVID-19, it remains open and ready to welcome visitors. 

So if you plan to visit the San Diego Zoo during your time here — and you most definitely should — here are some things to know before you go. 

Mask Up

The San Diego Zoo is largely an open-air park. The animals love the sunshine! The outdoor-oriented layout of the grounds also means it’s a far safer day out than many other options. Still, security of guests and staff always come first. So the zoo operates in compliance with the safety mandates outlined by Governor Newsom, the CDC, and the California Department of Public Health. In accordance, all guests ages two and up will be required to wear an appropriate cloth facial covering during the duration of their visit. 

Observe Social Distancing

The flow of foot traffic around the zoo tends to be brisk. However, there are still places where visitors tend to congregate, such as at exhibits and in lines for refreshments or other indoor areas. Wherever possible, guests are asked to observe recommended social distancing guidelines — in essence, to maintain a six-foot space between yourself and other guests. In common queue areas, look for signs on walkways that indicate the best places to stand in order to ensure adequate distance between yourself and others in the immediate area. 

Extra Safety Signs

Certain areas of the zoo grounds will have additional signage to remind you of section-specific precautions you should observe while navigating those areas. For instance, look out for orange signs at eye level in places like the Safari Park in order to be aware of additional practices of which you need to be aware. 

Possible Wait Times 

For the sake of enhanced safety, the zoo has instituted an on-grounds attendance limit. This is in order to give guests the opportunity to observe adequate distancing while visiting. Unfortunately, this does mean that guests will be admitted on a first-come, first-served basis and may be asked to delay entry until a sufficient number of previous guests have departed the grounds. The zoo and Safari Park have trip-planning tools available in order to assist you in planning your visit around the best times to arrive. 

Purchase Tickets or Membership in Advance

Want to cut down on your wait? The zoo recommends purchasing tickets or memberships ahead of time. When you pick up your admission ticket online prior to your arrival, you can avoid the lines at the gate. There may still be a brief queue at the turnstiles (especially if the park is at or near capacity), but you’ll definitely trim the time between you and the animals! Additionally, guests will be asked to complete a brief pre-admission health screening before entering the grounds, so be sure to plan for extra time to enjoy your day. 

Please Practice Patience

The COVID-19 pandemic has certainly been challenging for zoo guests, as well as the team. Everyone’s stressed, but they’re doing their best! So if a queue seems a bit long, an exhibit is closed for safety or maintenance reasons, or a given experience isn’t available, the zoo asks that guests please take a deep breath and remember that we’re all in this together. With a little kindness and consideration, we can ensure that everyone enjoys a great day.