Safety Rules & FAQs

Review our Safety Rules and Frequently Asked Questions to help prepare for your next visit to the zoo! Do you have a question that isn’t answered below? Submit it using the contact form, or email us at guestservices@southwickszoo.com.

Click here for 2021 Visitor Information
Please note that certain questions and answers in our FAQ section may change depending on updates to zoo policies or state regulations, so please check for updates before planning your zoo visit.

Safety Rules & Guidelines

For your safety and the welfare of the animals, please obey all posted signs and guidelines throughout the Southwick’s Zoo property.

Southwick’s Zoo staff will remove anyone who violates zoo safety rules. We reserve the right to inspect anything that is brought into the zoo.

• Pets are not allowed on zoo grounds

For the health and safety of the animals, pets of any kind are not allowed on zoo property. DO NOT leave pets in your car while you are in the zoo or Galliford’s Restaurant & Tavern. Pets cannot be brought to Zoofari Drive Thru tours.

Service Dog Policy:

In compliance with ADA regulations, service dogs are allowed in the zoo. As defined by the ADA, service animals are animals trained to do work or perform tasks for the benefit of an individual with a disability. Pets providing emotional support, well being, comfort, or companionship are not recognized as service animals under ADA regulations. Please be aware that Pets, emotional support animals, and therapy animals are not allowed inside the zoo.

For the safety of the service animal and the animals in the zoo, service dogs not allowed in the following areas: Deer Forest, Petting Zoo, Parakeet Aviary, Elk Forest (Train Ride), or the Bird Show Area. We also ask that those with service animals please keep their distance from the following exhibits: lions, tigers, cheetahs, servals, leopard, chimpanzees, and giraffes.

Bicycles, skateboards, rollerblades, heelies, child scooters, and pedal toys are not allowed in the zoo.

Do not cross any fence or barrier within the zoo.

Visitors must stay on the pathways and cannot cross any fences or barriers. Do not try to touch the animals. Touching is only permitted within the deer forest (please do not touch antlers, however) and in the petting zoo. This is for the health and safety of our animals and our visitors. Those who cross barriers will be escorted out of the zoo.

Respect the animals.

The health and well-being of the animals is our top priority. Please do not yell at them or bang on enclosures. DO NOT throw any objects at the animals or into their habitats, and DO NOT try to reach over fencing to touch or feed animals.
Follow the Rules in the Deer Forest

Deer Forest:  Please follow rules posted at the Deer Forest entrance. Guests must stay on the pathway at all times. Do not run, yell, or chase the deer. Only feed the deer the food available in the forest as outside food can make them very sick. Plastic bags are not allowed in the deer forest or petting zoo.

Do not throw any objects into animal habitats.

Foreign objects like coins, rocks, straws, cell phones, or any plastics can create serious health hazards to the animals. Never throw any objects at animals or into their habitats, and DO NOT try to feed animals plants growing in the zoo. All animals are on special diets and the incorrect food can make them extremely ill. Do not reach over any barriers to try to give animals objects.

Guests are not allowed to bring food for the animals, and guests are not allowed to feed the animals

All animals in the zoo have their own specific diet that is closely monitored and managed by our anmal care team and veterinarian. Any food not part of that diet can be harmful, even if it seems like they could eat it, and can make the animal extremely ill.

Feeding of the animals is only allowed in the petting zoo, deer forest, and Parakeet Landing, and U with food that is provided by the zoo. Important Note: Please do not give deer feed to the goats in the petting zoo, or goat feed to the deer. It makes them ill, only feed them the food available in their area.

Wear proper attire.

Guests must wear a shirt and shoes while in the zoo. We strongly suggest wearing comfortable shoes such as sneakers or boots due to our uneven terrain. We do not recommend wearing flip flops, open toed shoes, high heels, or other similar footwear. Please remember that we a family friendly attraction, so clothing with offensive language or imagery are not permitted.

Children must be supervised at all times

Adults are responsible for the safety of children in their party,  and children must be supervised at all times while in all areas of the zoo including play areas, near/on rides, and in the gift shops. Never leave children unattended. Children MUST be accompanied by an adult while in the petting zoo and deer forest.

Do not run in the zoo.

Our zoo is located on a hill, and some pathways are uneven and bumpy. For your safety, please do not run. Be very careful with strollers, wagons, and wheelchairs.

Alcohol and smoking are not permitted

Alcohol cannot be brought onto zoo grounds, and alcoholic beverages purchased in Galliford’s cannot be brought into the zoo. Southwick’s Zoo is a smoke-free facility, so smoking and vaping are not allowed within the zoo.

Frequently Asked Questions

Jump to a section:
Admission  •  General Questions  •  Festival of Illumination

Admission Questions:

I have unused 2019 or 2020 tickets. Will I be able to use them during the zoo’s 2021 season?

Yes! The expiration date of unused 2019 and 2020 admission tickets has been extended to October 31, 2021.

Can I purchase tickets when I arrive at the zoo or do I have to buy them online?

Tickets can be purchased at the entrance or online. Click here for admission information.

I purchased tickets online for a specific date and entry time. If I can no longer visit on the date I selected, what are my options?

Please be aware that all tickets purchased online are non-refundable. However, tickets can be rescheduled for another date! In the event that you are unable to use your date and time specific  tickets due to weather, illness, etc, please email our Guest Services at guestservices@southwickszoo.com with your Reservation ID.

If I’m running late, will I still be allowed to use my date and time specific tickets?

Yes, arriving up to a half hour or so past your entry time is okay. Any longer, and we can change their reservation to a later time.

Do I need to print my tickets? Can they be shown on my phone?

If you do not have access to a printer, you can show your tickets on your phone at admissions.

Do you accept credit cards?

We accept all major credit cards.

Do I need to purchase tickets for/make a reservation for a child under the age of 3?

Admission is free for children under the age of 3, so you do not need to purchase a ticket or make a reservation for a child that is 2 years or younger. Note: Ride tickets are required for children under the age of three to go on any rides (excluding the Woodland Express Train which is free for kids 2 years and under).

Can I exit and re-enter the zoo the day of my visit?

Yes, you may exit the zoo and re-enter the same day. Be sure to get your hand stamped at admissions to show when you re-enter. You may also show your wristband if you have one when re-entering the zoo.

Are military rates available ?

Yes, our military rates are available at the entrance. Active service people receive free general admission, general admission is $15 for the dependents of active service people pay, and general admission is $15 for veterans. Military ID or other proof of service is required for military rates. Military rates are not available online.

Do you offer an EBT discount?

Sorry, we do not offer an EBT discount.

Does Southwick’s Zoo offer memberships?

We do not have our own membership program. However, members of the non-profit EARTH Ltd receive free admission to our zoo. You can learn more about EARTH memberships here.

I’m a member of Zoo New England, do I get a discount on admission at Southwick’s?

Southwick’s Zoo is privately owned and is not affiliated with Zoo New England or Roger Williams Zoo. The only memberships that will get you free admission to our zoo are EARTH Ltd memberships.

I plan on paying with cash. Is it ok if some of bills are heavily ripped or damaged?

Sorry, we cannot accept money that has been ripped, taped together, or vandalized.

General Visitor Questions:

• Do I need to wear a mask in the zoo? Do I have to keep in on for the whole visit?

Zoo visitors are not required to wear a mask. However, we recommend that visitors who have not been vaccinated continue to wear a mask when in areas of the zoo where they cannot socially distance from other visitor groups or when in indoor locations.

Is there a fee for parking?

Parking is always FREE at Southwick’s Zoo!

Are you handicap accessible?

We are handicap accessible, however please be aware that we are located on natural terrain. This means that there are hills and inclines to manage, and some paths within the zoo are unpaved. Electric wheelchairs/scooters are best to navigate the park if you have limited mobility.

Do we have to bring a stroller or can we rent one?

You can bring your own stroller. We do have a limited number of rentals available as well. We offer the following rentals: strollers, double strollers, wagons, wheelchairs, and scooters. Click here for rental information.

Can we bring our own lunch?

Guests cannot bring outside food (including coolers and full lunches) into the zoo. Smaller items such as small snacks, beverages (i.e. water bottles, juice, coffee, etc,), formula and other childcare necessities, or food required for medical reasons are permitted, however.

Reminder: Guests ARE NOT allowed to bring food for the animals.

Can I bring my dog to the zoo?

Sorry, pets are NOT allowed into the zoo. Pets are not to be left in vehicles in the parking areas.

Our service animal policy can be viewed under the Safety Rules & Guidelines section on this page.

Can I bring in food for the animals? Can I feed the animals?

No. Food for the animals is not permitted as it can seriously harm our animals. The United States Department of Agriculture prohibits visitors from bringing any food into the zoo to feed the animals. Any food brought to the zoo for animal consumption will be confiscated. Feeding “people food” purchased for human consumption or even feeding plants growing in the zoo can be VERY harmful to the animals and is NOT ALLOWED.

Visitors are not allowed to feed the animals. The only exceptions are the deer in Deer Forest, goats in the petting zoo, and parakeets in Parakeet Landing, and visitors can only feed animals in these locations their specific food provided by the zoo.  *DO NOT bring deer feed into the petting zoo. The deer and goats have different diets, and the incorrect food makes them very sick. Do not feed the alpacas in the petting zoo.

Where can I find First Aid?

First Aid kits are located at all dining and retail venues. A first aid station is available at the main entrance.

Can I bring a backpack?

Sorry, backpacks (unless they are mini backpacks) are not allowed into the zoo. Guests cannot bring any large bags or containers in to the zoo including, but not limited to, coolers, standard school size backpacks, large diaper bags, etc. Guests may bring a small bag however.

What kind of animals are in the zoo?

You can find our animal exhibit list here.

Can I have a birthday party in the zoo?

Visitors can book birthday parties in the zoo during our normal season. For more information, click here.

Will the zoo donate passes to my organization’s fundraiser?

We receive a very high volume of donation requests each year, and we try to fulfill as many as we can. Visit our Donation Guidelines page to learn more about how to request a donation of 2 general admission passes for use in fundraiser raffles, auctions, etc. Please be aware that all donation requests must be mailed to us with a self-addressed and stamped envelope, and we do not accept requests sent electronically (i.e. email, our contact form, social media, etc.).

Does Southwick’s Zoo have a room for breastfeeding mothers?

Yes, we do offer a room for breastfeeding mothers looking for privacy. The room is next to the family restroom, on the left side of the large building located between the petting zoo and the Bactrian camel habitat. The nursing room has two sides divided by a curtain and has rocking chairs and a changing table.

Do I need to worry about bees and other insects?

While we try our best to control bee and yellow jacket populations in the zoo, please remember that we are located in a rural, forested area, so bees and other insects are naturally occurring part of the environment. If you are allergic to bee stings, please remember to be cautious and bring any necessary medical items. If you are stung by a bee in our zoo, first aid kits are located in all concessions stands and a first aid room is located near the main entrance.

Does the zoo close if it rains?

Southwick’s Zoo remains open rain or shine during the normal season (mid-April through October). If the zoo must close due to severe weather (i.e. blizzard, hurricane, etc.), a notice will be posted on our homepage and social media.

Reminder: While our zoo is open rain or shine, rides, many attractions, shows, and smaller food and retail locations are weather permitting. Certain features may be closed or may close early on rainy days.

Festival of Illumination Questions:

The Festival of Illumination is a nighttime event taking place September 2021 to January 3, 2022. During this event, our zoo will be illuminated by hundreds of lanterns and custom-built exhibits meticulously handcrafted from silk, steel, and environmentally- friendly LED lights. Click here for more information.

Notice: The following FAQS are for September to November 21st. Some event rules and guidelines will change once the event switches to a Drive Thru in late November.

Is there a fee for parking?

No! Parking is always free at Southwick’s Zoo.

How do I buy tickets?

Festival of Illumination tickest can be purchased online for $25/person ages 3 years and older. Tickets will be available to purchase at the entrance during the event for $30/person ages 3 years and older.  Click here to buy Festival of Illumination tickets online.

• Can regular zoo admission tickets be used for the Festival of Illumination? If I visit the zoo during normal hours, can I stay in the zoo for the Festival of Illumination for free?

Sorry, zoo admission tickets, Value Passes, and EARTH Memberships cannot be used for this event. The Festival of Illumination is a special event with limited availability, and it requires its own date and time specific ticket.

If I visit the zoo during normal hours, can I stay in the zoo for the Festival of Illumination for free?

Zoo admission does not include the Festival of Illumination. This is a special event that requires it’s own separate ticket.  All guests, including those who purchased festival tickets, are required to exit the zoo at closing time for staff to set up for the festival. Once the festival opens, you may enter using your Festival of Illumination ticket.

Do children need tickets?

Yes, tickets must be purchased for guests ages 3 years and older. There is one rate for all ages. Tickets do not need to be purchased for children ages 2 years and under.

Is there a military discount, EBT discount, or AAA discount?

Unfortunately there are no discounts available for the Festival of Illumination. This is a special ticketed event separate from Southwick’s Zoo admission.

What happens in the event of inclement weather?

The festival is open rain or shine. However, in the event of sever weather, we may cancel or adjust the hours of the event. Please visit our website at www.festivalofillumination.com or www.southwickszoo.com or email guestservices@southwickszoo.com for updates regarding the weather.

Can I buy additional tickets/make reservations over the phone?

Yes, our guest services staff can assist you with your reservation. If you have the addition of one or two extra guests, you may also purchase additional tickets at admissions. For any admission questions, please email guestservices@southwickszoo.com.

How long can we stay in the zoo during the Festival of Illumination?

The lantern exhibition route during this special event takes approximately 1 to 1.5 hours. We ask that all guests follow the lantern route (some roads may be closed off) and keep all visitor traffic moving in the same direction.

Do I need to print my tickets, or can I show them on my phone?

Both options are acceptable! You may print your tickets or show them on your phone.

If I am running late, will I still be able to get in to the Festival of Illumination?

Yes, you have an hour window after your scheduled entry time slot to arrive with the exception of the last entry time slot. There will be no entry after 8:30pm. If you need to reschedule, please email guestservices@southwickszoo.com with your reservation ID and your preferred new date/time to visit.

• Something came up and I cannot visit on the date printed on my ticket, what can I do?

If you are experiencing a scheduling conflict, please contact our Guest Services team and they can reschedule your tickets to a different night. Please have your reservation ID and email address used for the transaction ready. You can either email Guest Services at at guestservices@southwickszoo.com or call 1-800-258-9182 ext 211. Please note that Guest Services will address emails and voicemails at the earliest possible convenience during normal business hours, typically between 10:00am and 5:00pm.

• Is this event a walk thru?

From September 2021 to November 21s, 2021, Festival of Illumination will be a walk thru. Starting November 26, 2021, the event will transition to a drive thru.

What happens after November 21, 2021?

After November 21, 2021, the Festival of Illumination will transition to a Drive Thru, and it will include additional holiday lanterns along with Southwick’s Zoo’s traditional Winter Wonderland. Ticket pricing, structure, and options will change for festival dates after November 21, 2021.

• Will the Deer Forest or Petting Zoo be open?

 Sorry, the Deer Forest and Petting Zoo will be closed during this event.

• Will the rides be open?

 Sorry, rides and attractions will be closed during the festival.

• Will food and gift shops be available?

We will have some concession options available in addition to  Galliford’s Restaurant & Tavern, the full-service restaurant at our zoo. If you plan on dining at Galliford’s, we recommend making a reservation by calling the restaurant at 508-928-0928. The Purple Peacock gift shop will be open each night of the event.

• Will there be entertainment?

Yes, please visit www.festivalofillumination.com for entertainment schedules.

Are pets allowed?

Sorry, pets cannot be brought onto zoo grounds. In compliance with ADA regulations, only service dogs are allowed in the zoo. As defined by the ADA, service animals are animals trained to do work or perform tasks for the benefit of an individual with a disability. Pets providing emotional support, well being, comfort, or companionship are not recognized as service animals under ADA regulations. Please visit the ADA’s website for more information.

Can I bring a bag or backpack if it has medical supplies and/or food and supplies for babies or children?

Yes, however, LARGE items such as coolers are not allowed into the zoo. Small bags with snacks, drinks, and supplies are okay to bring.

Can I bring a stroller or wagon?

Yes, strollers, wagons, and wheelchairs and ECVs are allowed.

Please just be aware that, for the safety of staff and patrons, strollers are not allowed in Galliford’s Restaurant & Tavern. Stroller parking will be available for those dining at Galliford’s.

I have mobility issues; how will this impact my visit?

The festival route does have some inclines, slopes, and hills. We have placed the route along our least strenuous pathways, however please be aware that we have a mix of paved, unpaved, and natural terrain along the route. Benches for resting are available along the route. We suggest bringing an ECV or electric wheelchair to assist with your visit. We do have a very limited number of ECV rentals at the zoo entrance. If interested in renting, we strongly recommend calling Guest Services (at least a week in advance of your visit) at 1-800-258-9182 ext 211 to reserve an ECV.

For those with severe mobility limitations, we suggest visiting when we transition to a Drive Thru from November 26, 2021 to January 3, 2022. The Drive Thru allows guests to enjoy the festival from the comfort of their own vehicle.

Will restrooms be open during the Festival of Illumination?

Yes, restrooms will be open during the event.

• Can I bring a camera and take photos?

Guests are welcome to take photos during the event. Be sure to include #SouthwicksLights when you post your pictures to social media!

• What animals can be seen during the event?

The Festival of Illumination is a special event that is separate from a regular zoo visit during the daytime, so guests should not expect to see many animals during the event. It’s possible that guests may see a few animals, but we cannot guarantee what animals will be outside and visible along the lantern exhibit route. This event takes place during the nighttime, so please be aware that some animals are kept indoors for safety at night, and many others will choose to stay indoors even if they have the option to go outside. Please also note that by the end of October, many species will have been moved indoors and off exhibit to their winter habitats.

The focus of this event is lantern displays and lights; if you wish to see view animals, we recommend visiting the zoo during our normal daytime hours during the normal zoo season, open early April to October 31.

Are Chinese lanterns a fire hazard?

The lanterns used for this event are not paper Chinese sky lanterns. The lanterns featured in the Festival of Illumination are large custom made lantern displays handcrafted from non-flammable silk and steel, and they are illuminated by environmentally friendly LED lights and not by a flame.

peacock perched on wall
Southwick's Zoo