Rhino Encounter FAQs

How do I buy a greater one-horned rhinoceros Encounter?
At present this Encounter is only available to book over the phone - please call us on 01244 650281 to make your booking. 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!

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 greater one-horned rhinoceros 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. greater one-horned rhinoceros Encounters are seasonal Encounters available from May – Sept/October. 

What's included in the price?
Rhino Encounters at Chester Zoo offer you the chance to get up close with these prehistoric-looking animals with their silver-brown hide, and folded skin. You will have the opportunity to feed a greater one-horned rhinoceros by hand plus the chance to learn more about these wonderful animals. There will also be opportunity to have your photo taken with one of our rhinos (on your own camera). Your admission to the zoo is included and you are free to enter the zoo at any time on the day within our normal opening hours. You will also receive a certificate and gift.

Is there an age restriction?
This Encounter is suitable for those aged 18 and above only. 

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. 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 they can wear over their clothes during the encounter.

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 rhino enclosure).

How many people will be taking part in the Encounter?
There will be a maximum of three people taking part in any one time.

How often will the rhino Encounters be taking place?
There will be one Encounter available on selected days throughout the week (both weekdays and weekends). 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 rhinos?
Each animal is different- some of our rhinos enjoy being touched and others prefer to just be fed. Here at Chester Zoo we respect all our animals. There is no guarantee that you will be able to touch the rhino during this encounter, it really does depend on the mood of the animal on the day but you will be guided by the keeper. 

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. The rhinos have the choice of whether to approach the encounter area or not. The collection is maintained in such a way that it is large enough to allow appropriate rotation of individual animals to ensure suitable frequency of use and to allow for rest periods.

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?
You will be accompanied by a qualified keeper at all times. The keeper will give clear instructions that you must follow in order to keep the activity safe. Rhinos are very large, sometimes unpredictable animals and our team will continuously monitor them conducting the encounter sessions in such a way as to reduce the likelihood of such unpredictable behaviour.

You will be located in a standoff area with the keeper and the animals you will feed are habituated to the encounter.

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 and wear appropriate clothing and footwear.

Do greater one-horned rhinoceros bite?
Greater one-horned rhinos have incredibly sharp teeth, but as herbivores they have no intention at all to bite us. The keeper will explain and demonstrate exactly how to feed the rhinos in a safe and controlled manner. 

What happens if the weather is bad?
In cases of severe weather or when the weather becomes too cold the greater one-horned rhinoceros like to go indoors, encounters may be cancelled and rescheduled for another day, or a different encounter may be offered.

Chester Zoo will endeavor to provide as much notice as possible but please be aware that cancellations may occur on the day of your Encounter for reasons beyond Chester Zoo's control.

Will this Experience be available all year round?
Greater one-horned rhinoceros Encounters will only be available for a period of six months from April to October.

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 greater one-horned rhinoceros 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?
We recommend that you bring your camera but you must ask permission 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 greater one-horned rhinoceros 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 greater one-horned rhinoceros?
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 greater one-horned rhinoceros will there be? How long do they live? How much do they eat? How many of them are left in the wild?
Our Keepers are very knowledgeable and will be able 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 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 can not 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 on our greater one-horned rhinoceros Encounters.