Northumberland Zoo is an inclusive site, we have various adaptations for visitors with a wide range of abilities. Click on a topic below to learn more about a specific area of accessibility.
The majority of the Zoo is on a flat area with a hill dropping down to the riverside on the northernmost part of the Zoo. The two access points to the river are opposite past the Arctic Foxes and next to Lemur Woods. These slopes are very steep and care should be taken if a wheeled chair is accessing these paths. The majority of the paths around the Zoo can be accessed by wheelchair however due to the hilly areas adjacent to the river, some routes involve steps or steep slopes which we consider are unsuitable for wheelchair users.
Please see the map below for locations of the steep paths and read our Footpaths page for information about tarmacked and tarplaning footpaths.
Inclines & Stairs
at the Zoo
Northumberland Zoo is Certified Sensory Inclusive.
KultureCity has partnered with Northumberland Zoo to make the zoo and all of the programmes and events that the venue hosts to be sensory inclusive. This new initiative will promote an accommodating and positive experience for all guests with a sensory issue who visit the zoo.
The certification process entailed the staff at the zoo being trained by leading medical professionals on how to recognize those guests with sensory needs and how to handle a sensory overload situation. Sensory bags, equipped with noise cancelling headphones (provided by Puro Sound Labs), fidget tools, verbal cue cards, and weighted lap pads will also be available to all guests at the zoo who may feel overwhelmed by the environment. Sensory sensitivities or challenges with sensory regulation are often experienced by individuals with autism, dementia, PTSD and other similar conditions(1 in 6 individuals).
One of the major barriers for these individuals is sensitivity to over-stimulation and noise, which is an enormous part of the environment in a venue like the zoo. With its new certification, Northumberland Zoo is now better prepared to assist guests with sensory sensitivities in having the most comfortable and accommodating experience possible when attending any event at the zoo. Prior to attending an event, families can download the free KultureCity App where one can view what sensory features are available and where they can access them. Also, on the App is the Social Story which will provide a preview of what to expect while visiting.
"Our communities are what shapes our lives and to know that the zoo is willing to go the extra mile to ensure that everyone, no matter their ability, is included in their community is amazing. We’re honored to partner with Northumberland Zoo to provide a truly inclusive experience for all guests!” - Uma Srivastava, Executive Director, KultureCity.
KultureCity is a leading non-profit recognized nationwide for using its resources to revolutionize and effect change in the community for those with sensory needs, not just those with autism.
Download the KultureCity app for more information and to see our social story.
Many of our staff are trained to respond to the sensory needs of our visitors. We will point out quiet and loud zones in the zoo and offer support to visitors who require assistance. Ear defenders may be useful in areas such as the Bear Falls Cafe, Softplay and the Stables.
We recommend visiting the site outside peak times if you require a quieter visit. At busy times there may be a long and noisy queue into the zoo, if you require assistance please let a member of our team know so they can assist you.
Throughout the year, we will be planning quiet days at the Zoo - keep an eye out on our social media for more details.
If you require assistance around the site we are happy to provide free admission for one adult carer. In order to book free carer admission we require proof of eligibility such as a letter from the DWP confirming pip/dla or a blue badge. Other forms of evidence may be accepted, please contact us to check.
Many of our animals have multiple viewing points, please ask a member of staff if you would like advice on the best places to see our animals. Some of the enclosures have glass viewing windows, these are not marked and do not have obvious barriers in front of them.
Some enclosures may have natural hedging in front of them, whilst we endeavour to achieve a balance between providing plants for wildlife we are aware this can at times make viewing of animals difficult.
All of our animals have the opportunity to use natural hedging and other plant life to obscure themselves from view. This is to ensure high levels of animal welfare and comfort.
Please contact a member of staff during your visit to assist with spotting animals if required.
Accessible toilets are found in the main entrance, male/female toilets opposite Bear Falls Cafe and again opposite the wallabies. Each of these are fitted with hand rails and an alarm. At present we do not have hoist facilities, however this is something we are working on.
Accessible parking spaces are available near to the zoo main entrance. These spaces are designated for holders of Blue Badges. If necessary, you may unload outside the main entrance to the Zoo and then move your car into the car park.
There is level access from the accessible parking spaces to the zoo main entrance building.
There is a wheelchair at reception that can be hired out, please contact us ahead of your visit to reserve it. In the unlikely event that there are issues with the wheelchair please alert a staff member as soon as possible so we can assist you.
Our free companion Zoo app provides information about the animals in an easily accessible format. We are continuously developing the accessibility of the app so if you have any suggestions or improvements, please contact us.