Phase 1 Opening Protocols

The way we do things have changed for all of us over the last few weeks. We appreciate you doing your part to help us stay open by taking safety seriously.

Visiting the Zoo

In this phase of opening to the public, Zoo Knoxville is open for passive outdoor use only, which means no indoor areas or interactive experiences like rides and animal encounters can be offered at this time.

The number of tickets will be limited each day with timed entries. Advanced purchase for general admission tickets and reservations for passholders and members online or by phone is required. Tickets will not be offered at the ticket window.

Please help us remain open by:

  • Washing your hands and using hand sanitizer stations throughout the zoo frequently
  • Maintaining 6 feet of physical distance between groups
  • Using ground markings and directional signs to maintain safe distancing in areas where people may gather
  • Staying home if you are sick or in a high risk group

Are masks required?

For the safety of our guests, staff and animals, we ask that you wear a mask while visiting. Don’t have one? Some are available for purchase at the front gate.

We have put together a one minute video to show you what to expect on your visit.


Frequently Asked Questions

Can I purchase tickets when I arrive at the zoo?

  • No. During this phase of re-opening, tickets must be purchased in advance online at or by phone at (865) 637-5331 with an assigned entry time so we can limit the number of people in the zoo for safety.

What if I am a passholder or member?  Do I need a timed entry ticket?

  • Yes, you will need to make a reservation online for an entry time, but there will be no cost for passholders and members.

What if it rains on the day and/or time of my ticket?

  • General admission tickets are valid only for the date and time they are issued during our Phase I reopening since capacity is extremely limited and no rainchecks are available during this phase of reopening. Annual passholders and members may opt to schedule for another date and time online pending availability. Zoo Knoxville is open rain or shine.

It says the zoo is open for “passive use”. What does that mean?

  • The outdoor pathways to view animals are open, but all indoor areas will be closed and interactive experiences, such as rides and animal encounters, will not be offered in Phase 1 of reopening. Areas that make physical distancing a challenge will also be closed, and some pathways will be one-way only. Think of it like a public park or greenway.

What areas are closed?

  • To make sure we are in compliance with the Knox County Health Department’s Phase I guidelines, all indoor areas and any outdoor areas that make it difficult to maintain physical distancing will be closed.  We will not be offering carousel, camel, or Zoo Choo train rides.  Some areas of the zoo will operate in a “one-way” direction along pathways for safety.


Am I required to wear a mask?

  • We strongly urge visitors to wear a mask to help us protect other guests, our staff and our animals. Don’t have one? We have inexpensive ones available for purchase at the zoo.

Will the restaurants be open?

  • The Beastro and Aldo’s Grill will be open, but operating with safety protocols for ordering and food delivery. Indoor dining areas are currently closed.

Will hand sanitizer be available?

  • Yes, hand sanitizer stations will be located throughout the zoo and restrooms will be open for handwashing.  


How often are you cleaning in guest areas?

  • Our cleaning protocols currently include scheduled wipe-downs and cleaning of benches, railings and other public contact points three times daily with a deep-clean sanitation spray before reopening daily.