Joanie, Leslie, and Dustin took Ashleigh and her dog Beckett to the Philadelphia zoo as part of their final training program. Ashleigh and Beckett did a great job and all of the animals at the zoo were supportive.

Many people enjoy visiting zoos, wildlife habitats, and animal rehabilitation centers, where they can enjoy and learn about a wide variety of animals. Service dog handlers are no exception! But, does having a service dog mean you cannot enjoy the zoo? Fortunately, the answer is no. Going to the zoo can and should be an enjoyable experience for both you and your service dog. If you are prepared, it should be smooth sailing.

Before you visit, find out the zoo’s policy on service dogs. There will most likely be some restricted areas, and information will be provided at the ticket office and/or website. If the presence of a dog would agitate, cause stress, or disturb certain species, they are restricted. Examples are live animal shows, large cat enclosures, bears, children’s petting zoos, walk through aviaries, certain reptile enclosures, and certain primate habitats. If you go with a trusted companion, they can watch your service dog while you enjoy the restricted areas.

So, go ahead, pack a day pack, grab some friends, and make that visit the zoo. Have fun, but most importantly, don’t forget the poop bags!

Amazing Tails is a 501c3 nonprofit that trains service dogs to assist the physically disabled. Please consider making a donation.