FAQ

Can I Fly a Drone at the Santa Barbara Zoo?

For the Short Answer, No. For the safety of the animals and the regulations of the Zoo, Drones are not allowed to be flown in the air space above the Zoo. There is also a clause about this in the Santa Barbara Zoo's Event contracts.

May I use candles, balloons or any other types of decorations?

Candles, tiki torches, piñatas and other decorations (floral, crepe paper, etc.) are allowed, however, specific placement of candles, tiki torches and piñatas must be approved by the Zoo in advance. Balloons, straws, silk flower petals, confetti, sparklers and luminaries are not permitted for the safety of the animals.

How do I coordinate catering, rentals, and lighting?

All catering, rental equipment (tables, chairs, etc.) and lighting are coordinated through Zoo Catering Services by Rincon (ZCS), a full-service caterer who handles all of the details and provides you with a complete price estimate for these items. ZCS is happy to work with any third-party vendor(s) for specialty rentals or lighting; however, ZCS must oversee all orders and coordination with third-party vendors. Outside food and beverage providers may not be used at the Zoo.

May I use the Zoo’s picnic tables?

Picnic tables for up to 100 guests are available for use but must be reserved in advance. Please refer to your rental agreement to determine if picnic tables are automatically included in your site reservation or if they need to be reserved separately.

May I bring in my own food or my own catering company?

The Zoo does not allows any outside caterers on Zoo grounds. The only exception to this policy applies to daytime events with fewer than 50 guests. Groups of 30 guests or less may bring in their own food or have food delivered to the Zoo’s front gate. No outside food or beverage service providers are allowed on Zoo grounds and it is the responsibility of the client to setup and serve any outside food. Zoo Catering Services by Rincon is committed to providing Zoo guests the best quality at a reasonable cost: there is no catering minimum, and ZCS does their best to work with any budget. For more information on catering services and/or rental services, please contact Zoo Catering Service by Rincon directly at (805) 566-9933 or zcs@sbzoo.org.

Can I provide my own alcohol? Do you allow hard alcohol?

The Zoo does NOT allow any outside alcohol, but they do have a full bar liquor license and offer many different beverage packages. No self-service of alcohol is permitted as all alcohol must be served by a ZCS Staff Person. Alcoholic beverages must also stay at your reserved event site during the Zoo’s normal business hours. ZCS is required to follow all California state laws pertaining to alcohol service. 

May I bring in entertainment or games for my event?

Most types of entertainment are allowed at our events. All outside vendors must sign the Zoo’s Policies Agreement and provide the required insurance. Any outside entertainers (i.e. magicians, clowns, hypnotists, etc.) must stay at the event site and are to interact with event guests only. For the safety of the animals, we do not allow any games involving balls, Frisbees or egg/balloon tosses. Please review any and all planned entertainment with the Zoo or your ZCS representative, as they need to be approved in advance. Amplified music is not allowed during daytime events or for any events (daytime or evening) at Elephant Junction or Cabrillo Lawn.

May you recommend a good DJ/bakery/florist/etc.?

We are happy to make recommendations for the third-party vendors that have been successful here in the past.  Due to sound restrictions the Zoo does require that you select a DJ from our Event Partners List. Please contact the Private Events Department for an Event Partners List.

May we have a limousine drive us into the Zoo or pick us up after the event?

Limousines have a difficult time entering and exiting the Zoo. Because of this, we recommend reserving a town car or your limo can pick you up at the Zoo’s front gate. Stretch limousines, SUV limousines, and trolley cars are not permitted on Zoo grounds.

May I bring in any toys for my event?

To ensure the safety of our animals and guests, bicycles, Frisbees, balls (all types), balloons, skateboards, water guns, and rollerblades/roller skates are not permitted inside the Zoo at any time.

May I bring my pet or any other animals into the Zoo?

No pets of any kind are allowed in the Zoo or parking lot (excluding service animals). Butterfly release is permissible if a native species and if approved in advance by the Zoo. No bird release is permissible.

Is throwing rice allowed?

For the safety of our animals, no rice, bird seed, silk flower petals, or confetti may be thrown. Natural flower petals and bubbles are allowed. In addition, the Zoo is happy to provide you with lawn seed to toss, at no additional charge.

How many people fit on the train?

Each train holds up to 40 guests. An additional train is recommended for events with more than 200 guests.

What if my guests want to enter the Zoo before my event starts?

You may pre-purchase tickets for guests who wish to see the Zoo before your scheduled time. Guests are not permitted to enter the Zoo until the time stated on your rental agreement without paying the general admission rates – discounts and Zoo memberships do not apply.

Is the Zoo exclusive for me and my guests after hours?

The Zoo is not exclusive for your event unless the Exclusivity option is added. Exclusivity is available for Hilltop evening events only.

What if some of my guests have a hard time walking to my event site?

Included in your site fee is a golf cart, driven by Zoo staff, to assist guests with special needs to and from the event site. Alternatively, electric wheelchairs may be rented at the Zoo’s Gift Store. Please contact your Zoo representative to arrange this.

Do I have to have event insurance, and if so, where can I get it?

Insurance is required for all events taking place outside of the Zoo’s normal business hours as well as any daytime events serving alcohol and/or all companies, corporations, and non-profit organizations (the cost for this insurance is generally about $200). The insurance policy must have a general aggregate limit of $1,000,000 and name the Zoo and Rincon Catering as an additional insured. Event insurance can be purchased through different insurance providers, such as homeowners insurance, or online. Two great sources for wedding/event insurance are www.wedsafe.com or www.privateeventinsurance.com.

What kind of deposit does the Zoo require to secure my event?

The Zoo requires the full security deposit, plus 50% of your site fee upon securing your date and event site. The remaining half of your site fee and payment for any selected Zoo Options is due one month before your event date. If your reservation is made within one month from the event date, the full security deposit and the full site fee are due immediately to secure your event date and event site. Please note: deposits to Zoo Catering Services are separate and determined based on your preliminary estimate.

*Please feel free to request a sample contract from the Zoo and Zoo Catering Services(ZCS) to review the formal event policies and guidelines.