Get Involved with the Zoo

Location Filming Policy


The mission of the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium is to enrich our community’s quality of life and to inspire a greater appreciation of wildlife for the advancement of conservation action.


The Columbus Zoo and Aquarium is pleased to assist photography and filming projects in conjunction with the above Mission Statement.  The Zoo is also a public attraction and our visitors are entitled to experience the entire Zoo with a minimum of distraction and inconvenience.  In order to accommodate all parties involved during these processes, the following guidelines and policies must be met and adhered to:
I. Requests and Preparation 
a. All requests must be consistent with the Columbus Zoo’s Mission Statement, must reflect a professional and positive image of the Columbus Zoo, its animals, exhibits, grounds and staff members.
b. All requests must be in writing and presented to the Columbus Zoo’s Community Relations Department at least two weeks prior to the date of filming.
c. Due to the fact that request approvals will be based upon the perceived quality and content of the final product, all requests must be as detailed as possible.
d. All requests are subject to fee guidelines established by the Columbus Zoo’s Community Relations Department as set forth herein.
e. Any cancellations and/or changes to any requests must be made at least 24 hours in advance of production date.
f. All request approvals are subject to final approval by the Columbus Zoo’s Community Relations Department. The Zoo reserves the absolute right to grant or deny permission to shoot and to determine the terms under which shooting will be permitted.
g. The production company shall obtain appearance releases for Zoo visitors whenever necessary.
h. Before shooting can begin, production companies must provide proof of general liability insurance and workers compensation coverage.  In some cases, companies may be required to name Columbus Zoo and Aquarium as an additional insured on their policies.
i. Submit your request in writing at least two weeks in advance of the scheduled shoot date with the following information:
• Include your name, address, phone number and email address.
• Provide a detailed description of the project.
• Explain where, when, and how it will be broadcast/published.
• Indicate how many people will be coming.
• Indicate how much time is needed for the shoot and your desired start date/time (include set-up/tear down time).
• Indicate any special equipment and assistance needed from the Zoo (include electrical needs).
• Indicate what area(s) of the Zoo in which you would like to shoot (polar bears, outside Zoo entrance, Zoombezi   Bay wave pool, etc.)
• Indicate whether you wish to interview Zoo staff members/visitors/volunteers and outline your interview request.
• List any other details that are important to the shoot.
• Email the information to or fax to (614) 645-3465.
II. Fees
a. Location fees are set by the Zoo depending upon a variety of factors such as the nature and purpose of the project, its intended market, its potential promotional value to the Zoo, the potential disruption to the Zoo’s operation, the extent to which the Zoo is required to support the project, and the extent to which the rights to the final product are shared with the Zoo.
b. The standard daily fee schedule applies to any activity that occurs between the hours of 7:00 a.m. and regular closing time (varies seasonally):
• $3,000.00 for the first two hours, two-hour minimum
• $500.00 for each additional hour
c. Fees for use of the Zoo outside of posted operating hours will be determined on a case-by-case basis and will be based on the number and type of staff required to stay overtime.
d. The $3,000 minimum daily fee must be submitted to the Columbus Zoo one week before the scheduled shoot.
III. Equipment and Props
a. Outside vehicles are not permitted on Columbus Zoo grounds unless prior approval is granted by the Community Relations Department.  If outside vehicles are granted approval, the following guidelines must be followed:
i) A Community Relations representative must accompany any vehicle while it is on Columbus Zoo grounds and while the engine is running.  Vehicles may not exceed 10 miles per hour, may not travel paved roadways during peak visitor hours, may not travel over bridges and may not honk horns or use any other means to clear pedestrian, animal or other vehicle traffic. 
b. All props to be used during a media production or filming must be approved by the Community Relations Department in advance.  Some equipment (lights, reflectors, microphone booms, fog machines, etc.) may be prohibited if it is determined by the Community Relations Department to pose a potential threat to the health or safety of the animals, habitats or visitors.
c. No plants or animals are to be brought onto Columbus Zoo grounds.
d. Power supplies are limited in certain areas of the Zoo and must be addressed by the Zoo’s electrician.
e. Lighting restrictions may apply to certain areas of the Zoo.  In most areas, additional lighting is allowed. The number of lights and their placement in relation to exhibit windows must be monitored by a member of the staff (some windows are acrylic and can be damaged by hot lights.)
f. Any materials brought into the Zoo must be removed by members of the crew.
g. We cannot supply storage of equipment or materials on site prior to or between filming sessions.
IV. Admission
a. All camera crews and personnel must provide a list of essential working members that will be needed while on location.  Such list will be available to the Community Relations Department and the admissions office 24 hours in advance to assist in the admittance of said working members.
b. Friends, relatives, non-acting minors and non-working crew members are not permitted complimentary admission to the Columbus Zoo without the express consent of the Community Relations Department.
c. A Community Relations representative will be present at all times.
V. Conduct
a. While on Zoo grounds, all production and camera crew personnel shall not in any way attempt to manipulate animals for the sake of production.  Clapping, shouting, whistling or any other distractions will not be tolerated.
b. Each crew member must stay in the immediate area of their assigned Community Relations representative when visiting or operating in any area not allowed to the general public.
c. All directives given by ANY Columbus Zoo personnel are made for the protection of the animals, habitats, visitors, employees and crew members, and such directives must be obeyed at all times.
d. The production company is fully responsible for all damages that occur at the Zoo as a result of their actions and for paying for all repairs deemed necessary by the Zoo.
VI. Ownership and Copyrights
a. Except as otherwise agreed, all film and photographs shot by the production company shall belong to it.  The company shall provide a copy of the final product to the Zoo for archival purposes.
b. Any video or still photo imagery produced by the Columbus Zoo photographer on behalf of any production company or individual requests pursuant to the aforementioned guidelines is the property of the Columbus Zoo Community Relations Department.
c. The production company will acknowledge the Zoo in its production, publication, website, or other promotional materials only when requested by the Zoo.  The Zoo makes no endorsement of the production company, its production, or any product featured therein.
d. The production company may use film and photographs shot at the Zoo only for the specific purpose stated in the Location Filming Agreement.  The grant of rights in one medium does not convey rights to sue any other media, unless so indicated. Under no circumstances may the production company use film and photographs shot at the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium in a manner inconsistent with the Zoo’s mission and image or in a defamatory, untrue or censorable nature, and the company shall cease any such use upon demand by the Zoo. The company shall ensure that its licensees and assignees fully comply with the provisions of this paragraph. 
e. Any video or still imagery produced by any individual or group for class  projects or educational purposes MAY NOT BE USED FOR  COMMERCIAL PURPOSES and must adhere to all aforementioned  guidelines without exception.