Prepare for Your Visit to the Utica Zoo

Prepare for your visit to the Utica Zoo

As we prepare to re-open to our wonderful visitors, there is some new information that will be helpful when planning your visit.

NOTE: An inherent risk of exposure to COVID-19 exists in any public place where people are present. COVID-19 is an extremely contagious disease that can lead to severe illness and death. By visiting the Utica Zoo you voluntarily assume all risks related to exposure to COVID-19.


Re-Opening Dates and hours of operation

We will re-open to our Utica Zoo Members on June 29-July 1 and to our not-yet-members on July 2. We will be open from 10 am-4 pm 7 days a week. We will be open on July 4.

Masks and Social Distancing

To ensure the health and safety of all of our visitors, our highly trained and specialized staff, and, of course, our animals who are unable to wear masks, all visitors will be required to wear a mask or face covering while on Utica Zoo grounds. Exceptions will be made for people with health conditions that limit their ability to wear a mask, children under 2 years old, and while enjoying concessions in our Rotary Pavilion area. Persons who are unable to wear a mask will be given a sticker to serve as an indicator that our staff is aware that person is unable to wear a mask.

Wearing of face coverings or masks will be highly enforced. Any visitors with a strong aversion to wearing a face covering are invited to watch the NYS guidelines AND our social media for changes to this protocol and plan a visit for another time.

Social distancing measures will also be in place and enforced. Many of our paths will be marked as One-Way only. We ask that all groups maintain at least 6 feet of distance from other visitors at all times. Follow our yellow and white markers for directions and social distancing reference.


In order to properly provide ample social distancing space for all visitors, we will be capping our admission to approximately 33% of our capacity or 500 visitors at one time. While we do expect large attendance numbers as we re-open, we encourage groups to consider coming a bit later in the day to avoid waiting at the gate to enter. Admission will be rolling throughout the day.

Cleaning and Sanitizing

The Utica Zoo currently has approximately 40 acres of developed land, which includes a large number of high touch areas. Our staff will be cleaning and/or sanitizing high touch areas, including fences, handrails, doorknobs/handles, restrooms, etc several times a day. We highly encourage visitors to refrain from touching any surfaces as much as possible. Hand Washing and sanitizing stations have been positioned in various locations around the Zoo, in addition to our restrooms and additional portable lavatories.


Some areas of New York State have not yet re-opened to full operation. We strongly discourage visitors traveling from areas of New York State that have not yet reached Stage 4 of re-opening from visiting the Utica Zoo at this time. As these areas of New York State re-open, we strongly encourage you to visit at that time.

Tickets and Admissions

Standard summer admission rates will apply. The Utica Zoo will be open from 10am-4pm 7 days a week. Tickets may be purchased at our ticket window as usual. Advance sale tickets are not available. Tickets will be available for purchase or member entry providing the daily capacity has not been reached.

We encourage debit and credit transactions to minimize contact with our staff. Signatures will not be required and credit card machines will be cleaned after use. Admissions staff will have a barrier window between our visitors and themselves with a 6″ gap to allow payment and receipt transfer. Gift Shop and admission staff will wear gloves and will change regularly.


QR Codes have been placed in key locations throughout the Zoo to access a digital Zoo map on mobile devices. Simply open your mobile device camera app, point it at the QR code and it will automatically provide a notification to follow. Touch the notification to access the map. Digital Zoo Map can also be accessed at Paper maps will be available for those that request a paper map.


Our concession stand, Polly’s, will be open and available for concession needs. Our concession stand is operated by Feasts and Festivities by O’Connor and will be operating in compliance with Utica Zoo’s Master Re-Opening Plan and all proper NYS Department of Health and CDC guidelines for foodservice and preparations amid the pandemic. Staff working directly with customers will not be utilized for food preparation and cooking without proper hand washing and sanitizing in between. Concessions staff have also undergone additional training for health and safety measures.

Masks are not required while seated in the Rotary Pavilion. Please wear a mask at all times while not seated, waiting in line, ordering, or while exiting the Pavilion. We please ask to not move tables as they have been staged to provide social distancing for all of our visitors. If you need a larger table, please ask a staff member to assist you or select a picnic table on the outside deck for a larger group. Food consumption outside of the Rotary Pavilion is not allowed at this time.

Food Ordering Process

-Customers may enter the ordering line near the front of the Rotary Pavilion at the designated area. Please be sure to adhere to painted paws and cones for social distancing guidelines.

-Upon ordering from the window, customers will be given a table number. Customers will then follow the yellow arrows around the rear of Polly’s to the Rotary Pavilion to find a seat.

-Polly’s staff will find the customer’s table and place the order tray on the table. Please remove your order from the tray to reduce contact. Staff will then remove the tray. Please dispose of all trash in proper receptacles.

-Polly’s staff will clean and sanitize tables and chairs after each use.

Gift Shop

Upon entry to the Zoo, visitors will encounter our outdoor gift shop area. Kiosks and racks have been stationed at social distanced intervals to allow shopping in safety. Gift Shop staff will be stationed at their register with a protective barrier.

-White-handed Gibbon Viewing: Visitors will encounter additional barricades at the White-handed Gibbon exhibit. Gibbons are Old World Primates and are believed to be at a higher risk for human to animal transmission of the Coronavirus. These barricades are to offer additional social distancing from the Gibbons for their safety. As a reminder, masks or face covering must be worn at all times while visiting the Utica Zoo. For the protection of animals who may be at risk of human to animal transmission and cannot wear a mask, this protocol will be strictly enforced.
-California Sea Lion feedings and Keeper talks: Our regularly scheduled keeper talks and California Sea Lion Feedings will not take place. Visitors may encounter Keepers providing their regular feedings and training with our California Sea Lions however, we encourage all visitors to remember social distance. While working with California Sea Lions, keepers will not be able to wear masks due to animal behavior and safety concerns.
-Several areas of the Zoo will also be marked as Team Members Only. Please be sure to adhere to all closed areas and maintain social distance from all Team Members, including our Keeper Team; Zookeepers are highly trained and specialized in their field. Protection of all is critical.
Restroom doors will be propped open to reduce contact. Please limit the number of people who enter restrooms to ensure proper social distance, as well as while waiting in line. Restrooms will be cleaned and sanitized regularly throughout the day. We have also placed additional ADA-accessible portable lavatories near the restrooms and African Lion exhibit with additional handwashing stations. There is also a handwashing station in the Backyards and Barnyards (Children’s Zoo area).
Visitor Amenities
Several areas of the Zoo and Visitor Amenities will be closed to visitors. Closed areas will be clearly marked and we kindly ask that all visitors adhere to marked signage. The safety and protection of all is extremely critical.
-Nature Play Area
-Feed Machines
-Photo Booth
-Penny Press
-Change Machine
-Tower Optical Viewers
-Drinking Fountains
-Stroller rentals
-Soda vending machines
-KultureCity Sensory Bags
-Eagle View Pavilion: Eagle View Pavilion will be open in the event of inclement weather. Consumption of food in the Eagle View Pavilion is not allowed at this time.
-Zebra View Pavilion: Zebra View Pavilion is closed to visitors.
-Benches and seating: To ensure the safety and health of our visitors as pertains to sanitation, many of the benches and picnic tables have been removed from use. Some areas will still have benches available for seating, however, use of these benches is with the knowledge these are high touch areas that may not be currently fully sanitized.

The Zoo’s reopening approach (precautions and safety measures) have been put in place to maintain the health and well-being of staff, visitors, and animals. Our plan will offer visitors the opportunity to connect with nature, see animals, and spend quality time with family. By limiting visitor capacity and implementing health and safety measures described above recommended by local, state, and federal officials, as well as the Association of Zoos and Aquariums and USDA, the community can take in the beauty of the zoo in a safe way. We are committed to continuing to inspire our guests every day!

All items listed above are subject to change without notice.

Updates will continue to be made.

The Utica Zoo reserves the right to refuse or rescind admission at our discretion at any time.

We have received the green light from Governor Cuomo’s office to welcome you all back to visit again! While we were hoping to be able to re-open for our members this weekend, we have made the decision, with safety and preparedness in mind, to re-open to our members on Monday, June 29 through Wednesday, July 1st. We will then open to the general public on Thursday, July 2nd. We will be open at 10 am daily and close at 4 pm daily Monday through Sunday. Any not-yet-members are welcome to become members right away at to take part in our member-only days.

We want to make sure that everyone is healthy and safe, including our animals and staff, so a number of new measures and limitations will be introduced. We will be requiring that all visitors and staff wear a mask or face covering while on Zoo grounds to protect other visitors, our extremely specialized and highly trained staff members, and our animals who are unable to wear masks. The safety and protection of all is extremely critical. Exceptions will be made for children under 2 years of age, those people with medical conditions, and while enjoying concessions in our pavilion area.
Wearing of face coverings or masks will be highly enforced. Any visitors with a strong aversion to wearing a face covering are invited to watch the NYS guidelines AND our social media for changes to this protocol and plan a visit for another time.
Additionally, we will be capping admission at 33% capacity or 500 visitors at one time. Indoor buildings and barn areas will be closed to visitors, along with one-way routes throughout the Zoo. We will be bringing in additional restroom facilities and handwashing stations and public touch areas will be sanitized daily.
From all of us at the Utica Zoo, we would like to thank the entire community for the various ways we were supported during the 107 days we were closed. Many donated funds, bottles/cans, and in-kind contributions to assist us in providing excellent care of our animals. Our cherished donor, Dr. Joan Sinnott PhD. is matching all monetary gifts of any size up to $20,000 per month through October 31st. Contributions may be made at the Zoo, US Mail, or

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