For visitors on the autistic spectrum
We’re really delighted that you are considering a trip to the zoo. Here are a few tips to get the best out of your visit.
We know that sometimes it’s reassuring to know what to expect during your visit. For this reason we’ve put an interactive map online here so you can explore our catering facilities, picnic areas, accessible toilets and changing rooms before you arrive. We’ve also got lots of information about our animals online so that you can do some research on them before you arrive.
Visit as often as you like
We have a membership scheme available so if you like to visit a particular species or want to visit us for short periods of time on a regular basis then membership is perfect for you.
Carers can also access the zoo for free so it works out as great value. You can check the terms here.
For visitors who prefer not to be here during our busier times we would recommend that you visit outside of the school holidays and on weekdays where possible. We find that our ‘off peak’ seasons are a really great time to be here at the zoo so that you can spend as long as you like with the animals that you love.
Visiting as a group
We have run group workshops for the National Autistic Society so have some experience of preparing ‘sensory’ experiences. If you would like to visit as a group for a tailor made visit that will suit your needs then please contact our Groups team on 0870 720 1507 or our Learning team on 01244 650205.
Relax and enjoy
Many of our team have had training to make them more aware about the challenges that might face people on the autistic spectrum during their visit to the zoo, so we totally understand how you might feel. We want to reassure you that you are really welcome and we’ll do everything that we can to make your visit a great experience. If you have particular issues with queuing or need to use our accessible facilities then all you need to do is ask.
We’re really keen to improve the experience for all of our visitors so we’re really keen to hear from you if you have specific needs or any questions about the zoo. Wherever we can we’ll make arrangements in advance of your visit to ensure everything goes smoothly so you can concentrate on having a good time.
Just call our Guest Experience team in advance on 01244 389 482 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
We appreciate and welcome any feedback relating to your visit to Chester Zoo as we are always interested in ways to improve our visitor experience. Contact our Guest Services team on 01244 380280 or email email@example.com.
Further information about Chester Zoo and autism
Our commitment – We are working with Autism Together to raise autism awareness in our community and we are signed up to the Autism Charter, pledging to become an autistic friendly visitor attraction. We have so far trained 66 members of staff to become Autism Champions, who will soon be the accessible face of autism support for the public within the zoo.
To date, 137 zoo staff have attended autism awareness training delivered by our partners Cheshire Autism and Autism Together. We are rolling this training out to further staff during the course of 2016 with the aim of further improving our offer as an autistic friendly visitor attraction.
Autism Together testimony about Chester Zoo’s commitment to the Autism Charter:
The response to this approach from the management and staff of Chester Zoo was overwhelming and they quickly embraced the opportunity to secure staff training across the board, working closely with Autism Together in the identification of the adjustments needed to make a difference. They were also eager to seek advice on how to implement resources specific to supporting individuals on the autism spectrum and their families.
Quiet spaces, so very useful for the person with autism when in crowded areas, will be available throughout the location. This is invaluable for people who can use this facility to reduce anxiety and therefore be able to participate in a successful visit that may otherwise elude them.
Interested in working at Chester Zoo?
We are an equal opportunities employer with hundreds of staff, many of whom have individual employment needs - including those on the autism spectrum, mental health needs and physical disabilities. We offer a highly diverse and accommodating range of employment opportunities.
8% of our current permanent work force has a declared disability under the Equality Act which may require reasonable adjustments in the workplace. We welcome all applications for employment and will work with you to provide reasonable adjustments to accommodate all applications.
Careers at Chester Zoo
You can also apply to be a volunteer here at the zoo. We have over 150 volunteers who support us on a daily basis and play a crucial role in providing an all-round excellent visitor experience.
Read Josh’s story on autismtogether.co.uk about how volunteering at the zoo helped with his autism.
Volunteer at the zoo