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 5 p.m. during the Spring.
Due to COVID-19 and the necessity to continue to limit in-park capacity, the Columbus Zoo will return to timed ticketing and reservations. After 2 p.m., Members and day guests can visit the Zoo any day without a timed entry/reservation.
Masks are no longer required to be worn when you are outside at the Zoo, as long as you can social distance. They are still required when you are indoor or in crowded areas.
Read below for details about Zoo babies, free admission days, Zoo discounts, and membership details.
What’s new at the Columbus Zoo?
New inclusivity initiatives
Adult Changing Station. A new larger family restroom is available in the Adventure Cove region that includes an adult changing station, which meets the needs of guests with differing abilities. The “Stay All Day” project was a goal of Westerville teen, Olivia Brohard, in honor of her brother, who lived with quadriplegic cerebral palsy and loved the Columbus Zoo. In addition to the adult changing station, the family restroom at Adventure Cove also features a mural painted by Olivia, as well as handprint tiles created by children and young adults living with disabilities to encourage inclusion and community.
Quiet Hours and Events. After a positive response from the first day offering “quiet hours” in March, they’ve added more dates with Quiet hours. These times give guests the opportunity to enjoy the Zoo in a calm and relaxed atmosphere, without the typical sounds that can be challenging for individuals with sensory needs.
Current dates that have been set are Sundays, May 16, June 13, July 18 and August 8 (all of which are Sundays).
- Quiet Hours at the Zoo will be in effect from open to close (9 a.m. – 5 p.m.) on May 16 and 9 a.m. – 7 p.m. on the remaining dates.
- During Quiet Hours, all added park sounds, music and exhibit technology will be turned off or lowered as much as possible.
- Sensory-Friendly Meet and Greets with the Zoo’s Character Ambassadors will be available from 10 a.m. – 2 p.m. in the Suzie Edwards Conservation Education Classrooms. (Please note that guests will need a dated/timed reservation prior to this experience, which can be made through the Zoo’s calendar page on the website. There is no cost for this experience and Zoo admission is not included in this reservation, as this location is outside the Zoo’s main entrance. Guests are still welcome to make a Member reservation or purchase a timed ticket to enter the Zoo during their visit.)
Family Access Membership and Culture Pass Program
The Family Access discounted membership category is for families who live in Ohio and qualify for government assistance. The membership admits up to two primary named members in the same household, plus either dependent children or grandchildren up to age 21 years (not both) to the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium and/or The Wilds.
At the Zoo, this membership is $45 and includes free admission and parking, access to members-only events and a digital magazine, discounts on educational classes and camp offerings, a 10% discount in gift shops, discounts on Zoombezi Bay single-day waterpark tickets and Season Passes, and discounts at Safari Golf Club and The Wilds.
The Wilds’ Family Access Membership is $60, and includes free Open-Air Safari tours and parking, discounts on overnight accommodations and merchandise, access to The Wilds’ digital member magazine, and more. Both the Zoo and The Wilds’ Family Access Memberships also provide discounted or free admission to more than 150 other Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA)-accredited facilities.
Family Access Memberships to the Zoo and The Wilds can only be purchased onsite at the Columbus Zoo’s Membership and Season Pass Processing office. Families interested in a Family Access Membership at the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium are encouraged to check out the FAQ page for more information. An FAQ page with more about the Family Access Membership for The Wilds is also available here.
To receive a Family Access Membership, guests must provide a valid, photo ID demonstrating proof of Ohio residency, and documentation of participating in a government-assisted program. Membership cards will be provided at the time of purchase.
Eligible government-assisted programs include WIC, Ohio Directions, Medicaid, CareSource, Molina, WellCare, Paramount Advantage, Buckeye Community Health Plan, United Healthcare Community Plan, and Amerigroup Real Solutions.
Additionally, the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium is taking part in a collaborative project with the Columbus Metropolitan Library (CML) through the Culture Pass program. At select CML locations, cardholders can check out a Culture Pass, which will grant them a free visit to the Zoo. At check out, CML cardholders receive a yellow Zoo Culture Pass (valid for two days), which they take to the Zoo’s entrance. The pass can be redeemed for up to six adults and/or children. The Culture Pass can be returned to one of the Zoo’s team members, so guests do not need to return the pass to their library. More information and a list of eligible locations for the Culture Pass program can be found online.
For additional updates about the Columbus Zoo’s animals, events, community initiatives and more, be sure to follow the Zoo’s social media accounts on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, and visit us at ColumbusZoo.org. Additional information about The Wilds can be found on the website at TheWilds.org and Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.
Dinosaur Island is back starting Memorial Day Weekend, and will be available until the end of October! This is such a fun feature! Dinosaur Island will take guests back 65 million years on a quest to discover over 30 animatronic dinosaurs that shift and blink, have tails that move, bodies that breathe, and electronic “brains” that activate and control their movements and sounds.
A special admission ticket is required for entrance and is not included with Zoo admission. Admission to Dinosaur Island is $3 for general admission, $2 for Columbus Zoo members, and free for Columbus Zoo Gold members, as well as included in the price of a ZooMore ride wristband.
Watch Nina the dinosaur make her way through Columbus to lead her friends to the Zoo!
We can expect a new baby elephant at the Zoo this summer! Asian elephant, Phoebe, is expecting a big bundle of joy (father is Hank)! Phoebe is in the third trimester of her pregnancy and will likely give birth to her calf in mid- to late June. Elephants have the longest gestational period of all mammals, lasting approximately 22 months. At birth, newborn elephant calves can weigh between 200 and 300 pounds and stand approximately 3 feet tall.
The Columbus Zoo and Aquarium welcomed the arrival of a tufted deer fawn—the first birth of the new year! Born on January 4, 2021, the fawn is being hand-reared by Animal Care team members, due to complications after his birth. He is described as spunky, curious and brave. First-time mom, Joslyn and her fawn continue to do well and will stay behind the scenes until spring. Be sure to look out for them when the weather warms up! One of my favorite things about this exhibit is that you get to go in the enclosure with the deer!
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 4-year-old male Greater One-horned Rhino, named Brian, arrived on April 9, 2021, from the Center for Conservation of Tropical Ungulates (CCTU), an Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) Sustainability Partner located in Florida. Guests can view him in the indoor habitat located in the elephant and rhino building, where you may find him playing in the sand pile!
The plan is for Brian to eventually be introduced to The Wilds for mating opportunities.
Note: the Asia Quest region will be undergoing renovations to make it bigger and better!
The Columbus Zoo and Aquarium welcomed two young manatees were transferred to the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium in Ohio to continue their rehabilitation. They are the 34th and 35th manatees to arrive at the Columbus Zoo for rehabilitation since the Zoo joined the Manatee Rescue & Rehabilitation Partnership (MRP) in 1999. Acorn and Einstein have joined the Zoo’s Manatee Coast habitat with long-term resident and fan favorite, Stubby, as well as other recovering manatees Squirrel and Scampi, who arrived at the Columbus Zoo on October 22, 2020.
The two young manatees were rescued by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission in the fall of 2020.
Einstein arrived at ZooTampa in August 2020 from Steinhatchee River with his injured mom, who unfortunately did not survive her injuries. As an orphaned calf, he is not able to be released until he reaches 600 pounds. He is considered to be in stable condition and, as of April 8, weighs 470 pounds.
Acorn arrived at ZooTampa in November 2020 from Crystal River, where he was found floating off a dock and was emaciated. He has been stable for a few months and is gaining weight consistently. Acorn arrived at 315 pounds and, as of April 8, weighs 430 pounds.
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, 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
Due to COVID-19 and the necessity to continue to limit in-park capacity, the Columbus Zoo will return to timed ticketing and reservations until further notice. Members can visit the Zoo any day without a timed entry/reservation.
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 March 12, 2021 (tba for 2022)
- Free Admission to Columbus Zoo for MLK Jr. Day: January 18, 2021
- Free Admission at Columbus Zoo on President’s Day: February 15, 2021
- Mother’s Day; Free admission for moms: May 9, 2021
- Father’s Day; Free admission for dads: June 20, 2021
- Military Family Free Days at Columbus Zoo: July 3-11, 2021
- 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
- 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
- Parking per car – $10 (no cash starting June 2020)
Zoo More Wristband
Zoo More wristbands are available now for $9.99 weekdays until May 28! Wristband includes unlimited access to the North America Train, Grand Carousel, 4-D Theater, pony rides and camel ride. The cost of the Zoo More Wristbands is $14.99 when Rides at Adventure Cove are open beginning weekends May 1 and daily May 29. Dinosaur Island will also be included once it opens for the season.
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 (NOT CURRENTLY AVAILABLE)
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. (NOT CURRENTLY AVAILABLE)
- Active and Non-active duty military personnel receive a $2 discount on up to 6 tickets when they show a valid military ID. (NOT CURRENTLY AVAILABLE)
2021 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 2021. Reservations can be made by visiting ColumbusZoo.org or by calling (614) 645-3400.
May 8, 2021 – May 31, 2021 (Memorial Day) Service: Saturdays and Sundays
May 31, 2021 (Memorial Day) – Sept. 6, 2021 (Labor Day) Service seven days a week
Sept. 6, 2021 – Oct. 31, 2021 Service: Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays
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 2021: All Zoombezi Bay visits will now require a dated, timed ticket, including all Season Pass Holders and Gold Members. Get reduced admission for visits after 4 pm.
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 – verify if these are available for 2021.
- 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
The Columbus Zoo and Aquarium is honoring the Association of Zoos and Aquariums’ (AZA) reciprocal agreement with other AZA-accredited institutions. The only way to purchase the discounted reciprocal ticket is at the Zoo’s ticket windows at the main entrance. No capacity restrictions are in effect for the AZA reciprocal agreement.
Half-priced Winter Admission
Columbus Zoo and Aquarium is offering 50% off admission discount from January 4 through March 12, 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.