The Columbus Zoo and Aquarium is one of the most popular attractions in Columbus – for good reason! Our Zoo is amazing and regularly ranks as one of the best Zoos in the U.S. There’s so much to enjoy this year at the Zoo, including new exhibits and new babies. With tons of outdoor exhibits and miles of paths, it’s a safe attraction to visit this year.
The Columbus Zoo and Aquarium is open daily from 10 a.m. until 4 p.m., through February 2021 for winter hours.
Half-priced Winter Admission
Columbus Zoo and Aquarium is offering 50% off admission discount from January 4 through February 28, 2021 to show their appreciation for the great support they received in the last year. See more info here.
Visitors will NOT need dated/timed reservations to visit the Zoo during the winter admission discount dates, as the Zoo typically has fewer visitors during the winter.
See full details in this article before you plan your visit for other changes in regulations and precautions.
Read below for details about Zoo babies, free admission days, Zoo discounts, and membership details.
What’s new at the Columbus Zoo?
A female Masai giraffe calf was born on Wednesday, December 9, 2020 at 11:06 a.m. This is the third giraffe calf to be born at the Columbus Zoo this year, marking an important achievement for the conservation of this endangered species. Mom, Digi, and the calf named Sammie are doing well. Sammie joins other giraffe babies – Ralph, born to Zuri on June 28, and Schaefer, born to Jana on August 26, 2020.
A baby koala is developing in the pouch of Katy the koala after being born July 5, 2020. Per the Zoo “As the joey continues to grow, the baby will be protected inside Katy’s pouch, which she can open and close using a special muscle. Currently, the joey is approximately the size of a softball, finely furred, and has recently opened its eyes. For now, guests may catch a glimpse of a tiny arm or leg every once in a while until around mid-March when the joey will outgrow Katy’s pouch.” Check out this amazing photo of the baby’s arm or leg peeking out from the pouch!
The Columbus Zoo welcomed three mountain lion cubs in December! A sad story turned happy, the mountain lions, “Captain Cal” and two orphaned sister cubs were rescued (separately) during the California wildfires in the Fall.
The Cal Firefighters named the male cub “Captain Cal” when they found him limping down a burned-out road in Redding on September 30, 2020. Firefighters found Captain Cal was orphaned and severely burned. He was rushed from the California Department of Fish & Wildlife (CDFW) to Oakland Zoo’s veterinary hospital, where he received great care. After 47 days of treatment, he was considered to be fully recovered. He was introduced to the two female cubs who were orphaned by the August Complex fire and also rehabilitated by Oakland Zoo staff, though they had not suffered burns. The cubs bonded immediately.
Captain Cal was just 4-6 week old, and the sisters were 3-4 weeks old. Mountain lion cubs stay with their mothers until around age 2, and since these cubs were orphaned at such a young age, they don’t have the skills to survive in the wild.
The cubs are all acclimating at the Columbus Zoo and remain behind the scenes until they are adapted and ready to be in the public area in the North America region. The sisters have been named Goldie and Poppy at the Columbus Zoo.Poppy has a black nose, and Goldie has a pink nose.
video courtesy of @Oakland Zoo
The Columbus Zoo and Aquarium welcomes two young manatees, Scampi and Squirrel, in October. They are the 32nd and 33rd manatees to arrive at the Zoo for rehabilitation since the Columbus Zoo joined the Manatee Rescue & Rehabilitation Partnership (MRP) in 1999.
New arrival, Scampi, was rescued with her mother, Jumbo, on November 22, 2019. Sadly, Jumbo passed away due to her extensive injuries from a boat impact wound. After receiving care and gaining some weight at the Miami Seaquarium, Scampi is now estimated to weigh around 200 pounds, which is still small, considering that adult manatees can weigh over 2,000 pounds.
Squirrel was found as an orphaned calf and was rescued on May 2, 2020. Upon her arrival at the Miami Seaquarium, she was placed in a pool with two other females in their rehabilitation center. She was able to nurse from them and ate lettuce on her own, which was an important accomplishment since she was very small when she was rescued. She now weighs 116.5 pounds but is still one of the smallest manatees who has ever arrived at the Columbus Zoo.
As part of the MRP, the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium is a second stage rehabilitation facility that provides a temporary home for manatees until they are ready for release back to the wild. Two manatees, Bananatee and Tostone, have completed their rehabilitation at the Columbus Zoo and returned to the Miami Seaquarium for final final preparations to be released in Florida waters where they were initially found.
New Exhibits at the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium
Sea Lion Adventure Cove for Seal Lions and Seals
Visit Adventure Cove to enjoy seal lions and seals basking on the rocks, barking and bellowing or diving and swimming through currents of water past huge viewing windows.
Watch training and enrichment demonstrations and presentations from above, or explore the underwater viewing “cave” and through a tunnel of clear acrylic. The tunnel is the first of its kind, taking guests on a curved, 60-foot-long journey down a submerged acrylic channel and boasting 360-degree views of these animals and the aquatic habitat that surrounds them.
The new Adventure Cove features a Pacific Northwest inspired rocky coast and harbor setting for the sea lions and seals that mirrors the coastal wharf of San Francisco’s Pier 39. The exhibit also includes Jack Hanna’s Animal Encounters Village, a colorfully-themed and immersive village highlighting diverse species of animals from all around the world.
Observe behavioral demonstrations with the animals, learn from Zoo educators, and experience one-on-one animal encounters. The stingray touch experience has also returned, and the rides in the former Jungle Jack’s Landing area received some minor facelifts and sign updates in order to seamlessly integrate them into this new and engaging section of the Zoo.
Columbus Zoo discounts
We love the Columbus Zoo and we get lots of questions about discounted Columbus Zoo & Aquarium tickets for the season and we post them when we see them. There are some discounts available year-round though, plus season passes are a great way to save money if you plan to go several times through the year. Read below for details, events, and free days at the Columbus Zoo!
The best way to find out about discounts to Columbus Zoo is to sign up for email updates from Columbus on the Cheap, and like our Facebook page. When we find new deals, we make sure our readers know about them.
Special Events and Discount Days at the Columbus Zoo
Annual Discount Days
There are quite a few free and discount days offered throughout the year, but the offers aren’t usually verified until a month or two prior. Here are posts from the prior year, but they aren’t guaranteed to be offered in subsequent years – click the link for the updates as the date gets closer for each!
- Half price winter admission 50% off regular admission January 4 through February 28, 2021.
- Free Admission to Columbus Zoo for MLK Jr. Day: January 18
- Free Admission at Columbus Zoo on President’s Day: February 15
- Mother’s Day; Free admission for moms: tba for 2021
- Father’s Day; Free admission for dads: tba for 2021
- Military Family Free Days at Columbus Zoo: tba late June – early July
- Free Admission to Columbus Zoo for Veterans and Families: Veterans Day, November 11, 2021
- Wildlights Stuff the Truck Food Drive: tba for 2021. Each person can bring 5 non-perishable food items for the Mid-Ohio Foodbank and get free admission.
- Free admission for Employee Appreciation Days: tba for 2021/2022. Select days offer free admission for public safety employees, educators, and medical personnel. See link for dates and details
Purchase tickets online
Save $1 or more per ticket by ordering online. Print your pass, or show the receipt on your smartphone.
From the Columbus Zoo website; prices subject to change
Regular Admission Franklin County Residents (proof required)
- Under 3 – Free
- Ages 3-9 – $11.99
- Ages 10-59 – $16.99
- Seniors over 60 – $11.99
- $3 discount for reservations made after 3 pm with the Late Day discount
- Parking per car – $10 (no cash starting June 2020)
Regular Admission for outside of Franklin County
- Under 3: Free
- Ages 3-9: $16.99
- Ages 10-59: $21.99
- Seniors 60+: $16.99
- $3 discount for reservations made after 3 pm with the Late Day discount
- Parking per car – $10 (no cash starting June 2020)
Zoo More Wristband
Purchase a $9.99 Zoo More Wristband online or in park. Each Wristband includes the 4-D Theater, Grand Carousel, the North America Train and Camel Ride. Rides are subject to availability
Columbus Zoo/Zoombezi Bay 2 Day ticket (admission to the Zoo and Zoombezi Bay for both days during Zoombezi Bay Operating Season) for Franklin County residents. Add $5 for non-residents. NOTE: This offer is currently unavailable.
- Ages 3 – 9 and 60+: $31.99
- Ages 10 and up: $43.99
Year Round Zoo Admission Specials
Check this link to see whether they have reinstated these discounts.
- Tuesdays – Seniors (ages 60+) receive half price admission to the Zoo
Franklin County Days
- Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays Franklin County residents receive half price admission to the Zoo.
*Zoo Guests will be asked to provide a valid driver’s license, state-issued ID or a current utility bill to receive the Franklin County Days discount.
- Active and Non-active duty military personnel receive a $2 discount on up to 6 tickets when they show a valid military ID.
2020 COTA Bus Rider Discounts for Summer and Fall
Ride the Cota ZooBus for $2 each way ($1 for seniors/kids over 48″, free for kids under 48″) and get a huge discount on admission. Admission to the Columbus Zoo is just $3 and admission to Zoombezi Bay is $10 off! Riders will receive a transfer/coupon from their driver to receive discounted admission. See details on schedule and fares. NOTE: You MUST make a reservation in advance to visit the Zoo in 2020. Reservations can be made by visiting ColumbusZoo.org or by calling (614) 645-3400.
Zoo Bus Summer service for Zoo and Zoombezi Bay is offered from Friday, July 3, 2020 through Labor Day, Monday, September 7, 2020.
Cota Zoo Bus Fall Service is available Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays from September 18 through November 1, 2020! When COTA Zoo Bus customers make a reservation, they can receive a voucher for $3 Zoo admission, per person. To register, go to the “Make Your Reservation” button below and click on the orange “Tickets” tab. Under “Daily Tickets,” click the button that says “Zoo Bus Customer Registration.”
Zoo Bus leaves from the Statehouse at 8:30 AM, 10 AM, 2:30 PM, 4:30 PM, and 6 PM, making stops at High & Broad, Griggs Dam Park & Ride and Dublin Park & Ride before it gets to the Zoo. Bus leaves from the Zoo at 9:15 AM, 10:45 AM, 3:45 PM, 5:15 PM and 7 PM, making stops at Dublin Park & Ride and Griggs Dam Park & Ride before it arrives at the Statehouse & High.
If you are going to go to the Zoo more frequently in a season, you will want to consider buying a season pass. You’ll get free parking (normally $10 a car), as well as other member benefits, like free preview nights for special events. There are discounts on season passes throughout the year.
Online Price for Franklin County residents ($3-$5 more if purchased at the Zoo; ). Non-Franklin County residents pay $5-$20 more per membership.
- Individual Membership – starting at $44 Admits one named adult
- Individual Plus One Membership – starting at $74 Admits one named adult and one unnamed guest
- Family Membership – starting out $114 Admits up to two primary named adult members within the same household plus either dependent children OR grandchildren up to age 21 (not both) to the Columbus Zoo.
- Family Plus Membership – starting at $144 Admits up to two primary named adult members within the same household plus either dependent children OR grandchildren up to age 21 (not both) to the Columbus Zoo. This membership also includes up to two named* or unnamed* guests.
- Gold Individual Membership – starting at $144.99 This individual pass gives you access to the Zoo and Zoombezi Bay, FREE Zoo rides* (including Jungle Jack’s Landing) and FREE admission to Stingray Bay and 4-D Theater.
Zoombezi Bay Season Pass – $69.99 – $144.99
Just want to enjoy the water at Zoombezi Bay? Surf into the wildest water park ever and get a special discount on your Zoombezi Bay season pass through our online store. These make a great gift!
Note for Zoombezi Bay reopening 2020: All Zoombezi Bay visits will now require a dated, timed ticket, including all Season Pass Holders and Gold Members. Members can visit after 3 pm without a reservation.
Reciprocal Discount Member Benefit
As a Columbus Zoo and Aquarium member, you can save $3 on general admission to select Columbus museums and attractions through the Columbus Member Advantage program. No coupon is necessary. Simply show your valid Columbus Zoo membership card each time you visit! Limited to 4 discounts per membership per day; can’t be combined with other discounts. Columbus Zoo members receive discounted or FREE admission to the AZA accredited Zoos in the list below
NOTE: Contact the attraction that you wish to attend to ensure they are honoring the Columbus Member Advantage discounts during the reopening phases.
Columbus Member Advantage partners for 2020
- LEGOLAND® Discovery Center Columbus
- Columbus Museum of Art
- Columbus Zoo and Aquarium
- Franklin Park Conservatory and Botanical Gardens
- National Veterans Memorial and Museum
- Ohio History Center & Ohio Village
- Pizzuti Collection
- Wexner Center for the Arts