Aardvark Encounter FAQs

How do I buy a Aardvark Encounter?

You can buy your Aardvark Encounter online here or call 01244 650 281. You will then 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!

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?

Members and adopters receive a 10% discount on the price of this Experience (phone orders only).

Do I have to pre-book my Aardvark Encounter?

You will be asked at the point of purchase to select one of our available dates for your Encounter. Weekends do get booked up fast, so we cannot guarantee any set dates.

What's included in the price?

After an introductory briefing you will have a special opportunity to go inside the home of these unusual animals and with the keeper’s guidance feel the roughness of their skin and enjoy taking fantastic photos.

Our keepers will also be on hand to answer any questions you may have about these amazing animals.

Your admission to the zoo is also included and you are free to enter at any time within our normal opening hours but you must get to your encounter check in point on time to take part in the encounter.

Is there an age restriction?

Aardvark Encounters are suitable for adults and children aged eight years and over, however children (8 – 15 years) must be accompanied by a spectating adult paying normal zoo admission (1 adult per 1 child).

Are there any other restrictions?

Regrettably, certain guests will be unable to take part including people with relevant phobias or known allergies, people who suffer from asthma/breathing difficulties, pregnant women and immunocompromised individuals. Participants must also be able to crouch/kneel down.

Whilst every effort will be made to accommodate those with a disability or learning difficulty, due to practicality 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 that they can wear over their clothes during their Encounter. Gloves can also be provided.
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 aardvark 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 Aardvark Encounters be taking place?

There will be one Encounter available on selected days throughout the week. Encounters do get booked up fast so be sure to secure your date. Please note that a variable pricing policy applies.

Do I get to touch the aardvarks?

You will have a very special opportunity to go inside these unusual animals’ home and at the Keepers discretion and support feel the roughness of their skin. Please be aware that as with all animals this is subject to the aardvarks behaviour on the day and if the Keeper feels for any reason the aardvarks are unsettled or unhappy they may suspend this element of the encounter or the whole encounter.

Is the welfare of the animals compromised?

Care is taken at Chester Zoo that close encounters are organised so that the welfare of the animals is not compromised and this is monitored on an ongoing basis. Please rest assured the aardvarks have the opportunity to move away from human contact and if the Keepers feel for any reason the aardvarks are unsettled or unhappy they will suspend encounters

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 by visitors 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 animals. Guests will also be asked to thoroughly wash their hands with soap and warm water. Gloves are available to wear.

What happens if the weather is bad?

In cases of severe weather the Encounters may be cancelled and rescheduled for another day.

Will this Experience be available all year round?

Aardvark Encounters will be available throughout the whole year, including winter months.

Can I bring a guest?

Additional spectators are welcome to come along to watch your Encounter as they will be able to see you through the glass; you can even buy their ticket at the same time as buying your Aardvark 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.

Will I be able to take photographs?

Unfortunately the shutter sounds/clicking noises from DSLR type cameras agitates the aardvarks, and so for this reason we only allow ‘silent’ cameras and camera phones on this experience.

We recommend that you bring your own 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’t we feed the aardvarks?

Zoo keepers and staff veterinarians carefully monitor all of the animals’ diets and times they are fed to ensure their health plus this particular species become very excitable at meal times and may knock you off balance.

Can I bring in my own food to feed the aardvarks?

No, this is strictly prohibited as zoo keepers and staff veterinarians carefully monitor all of the animals’ diets to ensure their health.

How many aardvarks will there be?

We currently have three aardvarks and our Keepers who are very knowledgeable will be on hand during your Aardvark 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 delivery 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 that once booked the date cannot be rescheduled and if you are late you’re your encounter it will take place without you as other guests may be taking part in the encounter.

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 Aardvark Encounters.