The North Carolina Zoo welcomes guests with disabilities who use service animals as determined by the Americans with Disabilities Act and the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services. While emotional support, companion or comfort animals are often used as part of a medical treatment plan as therapy animals, they are not considered service animals under the ADA and we do not allow them in the zoo. If you have questions about bringing your service animal into the Zoo, please contact us before visiting.  

The ADA recognizes that a service animal can be any dogs or miniature horses that are trained to perform tasks for a person with a disability. Examples of tasks include guiding people who are blind, alerting people who are deaf, pulling a wheelchair, alerting and protecting a person who is having a seizure, reminding a person with a mental illness to take prescribed medications, calming a person with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) during an anxiety attack, or performing other duties. Service animals are working animals, not pets. The work or the task a dog or miniature horse has been trained to provide must be directly related to the person’s disability. A dog or miniature horse whose sole function is to provide companionship, comfort or emotional support does not qualify as a service animal under the ADA. Any species of animal other than a dog or miniature horse, no matter what task it performs, is not considered a service animal under the ADA.

ADA Service Animal FAQ's

Please be aware of the unique situation of bringing your service animal into a setting where live animal collections are held. Some animals by nature may react strongly to the presence of dogs or any animals outside of their enclosure and view them as a threat. A few areas on the grounds have animals that may react this way, so for the safety of you, your service animal, our animal collection and other guests, these areas may not be open to service animals. In the event an adverse reaction occurs between a Zoo animal and your service animal, we greatly appreciate your assistance in quickly moving your service animal away from the situation until we can work together to find a safe resolution. 

Service Animals Must Be Under Control 

Under the ADA, service animals must be harnessed, leashed, or tethered, unless these devices interfere with the service animal’s work or the individual’s disability prevents using these devices. In that case, the individual must maintain control of the animal through voice, signal, or other effective controls.

Here at the North Carolina Zoo a leash/harness is required at all times especially in the following areas:
•    Desert
•    Aviary
•    Acacia Station Giraffe Deck

There may be times when your service animal could be asked to leave if they cause a disruption to the operations of the facility. Specific behaviors that could be cause for removal from the facility include: 
•    The animal’s behavior is out of control, which includes, but is not limited to, vicious or aggressive behavior toward other people or animals, excessive barking and/or growling, jumping or running at other people or animals. 
•    The animal is not house broken. 
•    The animal is not under control of the handler such as being held by a harness, leash or on a tethered line or by verbal or other command. 
•    The animal’s size and/or weight cannot be accommodated in specific areas or sites on the grounds. 
•    The service animal’s presence is creating excessive stress to the animals in the Zoo’s collection.

Thank you for your cooperation as we strive to provide a safe and positive experience for you, your service animal, and our animal collection. If you have any additional questions or concerns during your visit, please let us know.  Guest Services offices are located in both the North America or Africa plazas near the admissions gates. For more information, please call 336.879.7308