All are welcome at the Blank Park Zoo! Our goal is to provide an inclusive and seamless experience for ALL guests regardless of age and ability. This page provides information on our efforts to accommodate and assist those guests and families with special needs. If there is more we can do to make your experience an enjoyable and memorable one, please do not hesitate to reach out to our Guest Services staff prior to your visit at (515) 285-4722.
Our accommodation efforts extend to our educational programs (more info on Education here). We design our educational programs to meet the needs of diverse audiences but may provide reasonable modifications where necessary. Our staff is ready to partner with parents and/or teachers to accommodate students.
All restrooms are wheelchair and stroller accessible and include changing tables (weights up to 50 lbs.)
Family restrooms with child changing tables (weights up to 50 lbs.) are available:
Future addition: adult changing table will be available in future restroom designs
All pathways through the Zoo are ADA accessible.
Wheelchairs and strollers are available in our admissions building or at the outdoor stroller and wheelchair rental stand near the eagle exhibit during peak summer season (weather dependent) on a first come, first served basis.
Pricing for strollers and electric scooters can be found here. A driver's license will be required to check out the strollers and wheelchairs.
Our carousel and train are ADA accessible. The front car of the train is equipped to hold a guest in a wheelchair. Please note; it does not provide a space for a care taker to ride alongside the guest. There are seats available behind the wheelchair cart for caretakers.
We have designated “Quiet Zones” throughout the park. These areas typically have less activity and offer a relaxing spot to sit and regroup if you or a loved one is overstimulated.
Quiet Zones are in the following locations:
Areas that typically have more activity and noise are designated as “Headphone Zones.” These include:
Check with admissions staff for availability. Family restrooms may be utilized for this purpose. Future construction plans include additional family restrooms and nursing rooms.
Our partnership with Kulture City enhances our ability to accommodate and assist guests with sensory processing needs. Download the Kulture City app on iOS or Android for resources, help, and Sensory Inclusive™ locations.
We are happy to provide cost-free sensory bags for checkout in our Admissions Building (just leave a driver’s license). The bags contain fidget tools, noise-cancelling headphones and other resources which may be helpful to you or your loved one. Weighted lap pads are also available upon request.
The most important aspect of our Sensory Inclusive Zoo Initiative is continued staff training. Staff are trained on sensory processing disorders, the various services available to guests with special needs, and strategies they can implement in their daily work to be sensory inclusive. Ask a staff member if you need assistance.
Our partnership with the Iowa Educational Services for the Blind & Visually Impaired and the Iowa Library for the Blind enhances our ability to accommodate and assist guests with vision-related needs.
Braille maps are available to check out (just leave a driver's license).
We are happy to provide cost-free tactile bags for checkout in our Admissions Building (just leave a driver’s license). The bags include a variety of resources specific to certain areas of the zoo, including:
We have a variety of tactile and audio exhibits throughout the zoo for our guests to enjoy. These include:
We offer a variety of food options available for sale, but guests with significant food allergies may be more comfortable bringing their own snacks/meals. While outside food may not be brought within the Zoo gates, we offer a comfortable, shaded picnic shelter by the main entrance playground for use by all guests. You may obtain a hand stamp at admissions to come and go from the zoo if you wish to use the picnic shelter and adjacent playground area.
We welcome your trained service animal, provided that he/she remains properly leashed and controlled. Service animals will initially be escorted by Zoo staff to provide guidance for a successful visit for the safety and well being of both the service animal and Blank Park Zoo animals. There may be a brief wait in Admissions for a service animal staff escort.
For the health and safety of the Zoo’s animals, personal pets are not permitted. Sorry, we do not have boarding facilities.
ADA law defines service animals as the following:
Service animals are defined as dogs that are individually trained to do work or perform tasks for people with disabilities. Examples of such work or tasks include guiding people who are blind, alerting people who are deaf, pulling a wheelchair, alerting and protecting a person who is having a seizure, reminding a person with mental illness to take prescribed medications, calming a person with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) during an anxiety attack, or performing other duties. Service animals are working animals, not pets. The work or task a dog has been trained to provide must be directly related to the person’s disability. Dogs whose sole function is to provide comfort or emotional support do not qualify as service animals under the ADA.