Red Panda Encounter FAQs

How do I buy a Red Panda Encounter?
Click here to buy your Red Panda Encounter online or call 01244 650 281. You will be asked to select a date for your Encounter. Don’t forget, weekdays outside of school holidays are slightly cheaper should you select one of these dates.

If you opt for a gift wrap option, we will send out a gift pack containing your Encounter voucher, gift message and everything you need to know.

What if I don’t opt for the gift wrap option?

After your purchase is complete you will receive an email confirmation confirming your purchase and everything you need to know about your Encounter – what, when & where!

I am a member. Do I get a discount?
Yes. Members and adopters receive a 10% discount on the price of this Experience (phone orders only).

Do I have to pre-book my Red Panda Encounter?
Yes. You will be asked at the point of purchase to select one of our available dates for your Encounter.

What's included in the price?
Red Panda Encounters at Chester Zoo offer you the chance to get up close and feed this enigmatic species in their own habitat as well as having the opportunity to learn more about these wonderful animals.

You are granted admission to the Zoo to take part in the encounter and you are free to enter on that day at any time during normal opening hours.

Is there an age restriction?
Red Panda Encounters are suitable for adults and children aged eight years and over, however children (8 – 15 years) must be accompanied by a spectating adult who would pay normal zoo admission for that day (1 adult per 1 child).  Although the spectating adult will not enter the enclosure with the junior they will be able to see their junior taking part in the encounter.

Are there any other restrictions?
Regrettably, certain guests will be unable to take part including people with relevant phobias or known allergies, pregnant women and immunocompromised individuals.  There are also a few steps up to the Red Panda enclosure and uneven ground to walk across which may make this encounter unsuitable for those with serious mobility concerns.

Whilst every effort will be made to accommodate those with a disability or learning difficulty, due to practicalities and health and safety this cannot always be achieved; please contact Chester Zoo for advice before purchasing.

Will I have a uniform?
All participants will be issued with wellington boots and special overalls to wear over their clothes during their Encounter. Gloves can also be provided for handling the food that will be given to the Red Panda (usually slices of apple). 

How long does the Encounter last?
The Encounter session will last approximately 30 minutes (some of the time will be spent meeting with your Keeper and being briefed across the zoo to the Red Panda enclosure).

How many people will be taking part at the same time as me?
There will be a maximum of two people taking part at any one time.

How often will Red Panda Encounters be taking place?
There will be one Encounter available on Thursdays. Encounters do get booked up fast so be sure to secure your date. Please note that prices do differ throughout the week and school holiday dates. 

Do I get to touch the Red Pandas?
No. Here at Chester Zoo we respect all our animals. You will not be able to touch the Red Panda, but you will have a fantastic opportunity to feed them from the keeper feeding station. Due to international breeding programmes the numbers of Red Pandas in the enclosure will vary from time to time. 

Is the welfare of the animals compromised?
Care is taken at Chester Zoo to ensure close encounters are organised so that the welfare of the animals is not compromised. The Red Panda has the choice of whether to approach the feeding area or not.

What if I become scared of the animals and don’t want to take part?
No one is made to do anything that they do not want to do. If you wish to leave the experience at any point you are welcome to do so. However, most people find that taking part in the full encounter is the best way to get the most from the experience.

Will there be someone qualified with me?
Yes, a qualified Keeper will be with you at all times to explain and supervise the activity.

Is it dangerous?
The animals you will encounter are habituated to human contact and do not normally display behaviours which pose a threat to visitors. However, it should be recognised that no animal is absolutely predictable and there is always a small amount of risk of unpredictable behaviour. Our team will continuously monitor the animals and conduct the encounter sessions in such a way as to reduce the likelihood of such unpredictable behaviour.

It is a condition of participation in the session that the risks and restrictions have been understood and agreed to. All guests will be requested to clean their hands with hand sterilizer before and after close contact with animal enclosures. Guests will also be asked to thoroughly wash their hands with soap and warm water.

What happens if the weather is bad?
In cases of severe weather the Encounters may be cancelled and rescheduled for another day.

Can my encounter by cancelled for any other reason?
Yes, the welfare of our animals and safety of our guests is our utmost priority Care is taken at Chester Zoo to ensure close encounters are organised so that the welfare of the animals is not compromised. The Red Panda has the choice of whether to approach the feeding area or not In cases of severe weather the Encounters may be cancelled and rescheduled for another day.

Will this Experience be available all year round?
Yes. Red Panda Encounters will be available throughout the whole year, including winter months. However, please note Red Pandas are cold weather animals so there may be the small chance that they might not be available on the odd day in the height of summer - this judgement call can only be made by an experienced keeper on the day of the encounter.

Can I bring a guest?
Additional spectators are welcome to come along to watch your Encounter; you can even buy their ticket at the same time as buying your Red Panda Encounter, or spectators can simply pay normal zoo admission on the day.

Please note that spectators will not be able to take part in your Encounter in any way or enter the enclosure.

Will I be able to take photographs?
We recommend that you bring your camera but you must ask permission of the member of staff running the session before you take any photos. This is to reduce the risk of changing the behaviour of the animals taking part in the session.  

Why can so few people feed the Red Pandas each day?
Zoo keepers and staff veterinarians carefully monitor all of the animals’ diets to ensure their health.

Can I bring my own food to feed the Red Pandas?
No, zoo keepers and staff veterinarians carefully monitor all of the animals’ diets to ensure their health, so all feed will be provided.

How many Red Pandas will be there be? How much do they eat? How many of them are left in the wild?
Our Keepers are very knowledgeable and will be on hand during your Red Panda Encounter to answer any specific animal questions you may have.

Can I get a refund on my Experience?
Under the Consumer Protection (Distance Selling) Regulations 2000 you have a right to cancel your order and or return an item purchased through the Chester Zoo online shop within 7 (seven) days of purchase for any reason. Chester Zoo will refund your payment card with both the item cost and original posting and packaging cost within a reasonable period of time. Unfortunately Chester Zoo is not able to refund the cost of return postage and packaging.

Please note this does not include the right to return personalised items and admission tickets. A refund can only be made to the purchaser on the same card originally used for payment. A refund cannot be given once a booking has been made or on extended, expired or exchanged vouchers. 

Any other questions?
If you have a question which is not covered in this list, please email gifts.experiences@chesterzoo.org and we will respond as soon as we can. Please call 01244 650281 if you have any urgent queries about our Red Panda Encounters.