American river otter in exhibit

Photography & Filming Policy

Lincoln Park Zoo is happy to consider requests to film a commercial, television show, or movie, or to use the zoo as a location for a print ad. The zoo is willing to assist in advertising and/or publicity needs of individuals and organizations within the community and throughout the nation under the following guidelines.


In order to protect the zoo’s guests, members, mission, and image, permission for location shooting is subject to certain conditions and can only be obtained from the zoo’s Public Relations department. The zoo reserves the sole right to grant or deny permission to shoot and to determine the terms under which shooting is permitted.

Advance Notice

A minimum two-weeks advance notice is requested. Lincoln Park Zoo will make every effort to accommodate last-minute location requests; however, requests with less than 24-hours notice cannot not be accommodated under any circumstances.

Requests and Approval

All scripts must be approved by the zoo’s Public Relations department. The zoo reserves the right to approve or deny use of the zoo’s name or image in any context and to review and approve all scenes involving the zoo.

Location Fees

Location fees are determined by a variety of factors, including but not limited to the nature and purpose of the project, its intended market, its potential promotional value to the zoo, time of day, time of year, displacement of other revenue generating events (catering, gift shops, parking, etc.), disruption to exhibits and guests, access to behind-the-scenes areas, the impact of the production upon staff, length of stay, 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.

Baseline Facility Fee Schedule

Commercial filming/photography
$2,000 location fee for the first hour; $500 per extra hour

Small, Non-commercial Filming and Photography (non-profits/students/documentaries)
$350 per hour, locations of shoot are only in public access areas.

This type of film crew consists of no more than three people and no lighting kits or special requests of zoo staff. Regarding student films, students with a media assignment are required to have a letter from a school official verifying the applicant’s enrollment status and that the shoot is related to course work.

Additional fees may apply if an extension of time or zoo staff is required (Animal Care staff, security, etc.). Locations fees serve as a benchmark. Actual fees may be higher or lower depending on space and resource requirements to accommodate the shoot and public relations value for the zoo. Student and nonprofit fees may be negotiated.

All payments shall be made prior to the beginning of the shoot.

Payment types accepted: Cashiers Check, Money Order (No Personal Checks)

Make payable to:
Lincoln Park Zoo
2001 N. Clark St. Chicago, IL 60614
ATTN: Public Relations Department

Shooting Times

All shooting must take place during regular zoo operation hours (9 a.m.–5 p.m., Monday–Friday) unless otherwise specifically approved by the zoo. In such event, an additional fee may apply.


The shoot shall be suspended or cancelled in the event that, in the sole discretion of the zoo, the shoot damages, destroys, or injures any plants, animals, or property at the zoo, or is likely to do so, interfering with the public’s use and enjoyment of the zoo.

Site Visit

A site visit and review of on-site requirements must be scheduled between Public Relations staff and members of the crew in order to address and agree upon all shooting locations, building access, and parking needs. Any behind-the-scenes shooting must be agreed upon during the site visit or prior to the shoot date. The size of the crew, number of talent, and amount of equipment must be agreed upon at the site visit or prior to the shoot date.

Exhibits and Props

Limited set construction may be permitted. Any sets brought into the zoo must be approved a week ahead of time. Nothing may be permanently attached to the walls or other structures. No tape may be applied to walls or exhibits. Any materials/sets brought into the buildings must be removed by members of the production crew. No plants, animals, or balloons are to be brought onto zoo grounds. Power supplies are limited in certain areas of the zoo. Power needs must be discussed prior to the shoot. Lighting restrictions may apply to certain areas of the zoo. In most areas, additional lighting is allowed. Exhibit lighting may not be altered without permission from a member of the Animal Care department.


If sound is being recorded, we will make every effort to minimize noise, but please be aware we cannot guarantee a quiet environment.


All space on zoo property has a designated purpose and is at a premium. We regret that no storage of any kind can be provided on site prior to or between filming sessions, with one exception: by prior agreement, some behind-the-scenes lighting setups may remain in place during the duration of filming.


As onsite parking for production vehicles is extremely limited, parking needs must be arranged in detail one week prior to filming. Parking fees will apply.

Damages and Insurance

The production company is fully responsible for all damages occurring at the zoo during its use and for paying for all repairs deemed necessary by the zoo. The production company must carry workers’ compensation insurance and a general liability policy with limits of at least $1 million. Depending upon the circumstances, the production company may be required to obtain additional coverage, to name the zoo and the Chicago Park District as an additional insured, and to furnish a certificate of insurance to the zoo.

Model/Talent Releases

The production company is responsible for obtaining model releases whenever necessary.

Ownership and Copyrights

Except as otherwise agreed, all film and photographs shot by the production company shall belong to it. A copy of the final product shall be given to the zoo for archival purposes. All film and photographs will include credits to Lincoln Park Zoo. All film and photographs will be for a one-time-only usage unless otherwise noted. All film and photographs 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 exceptions.

Use of Images (Film, Video, and Photographs)

Unless otherwise agreed, the production company may use the images (film, video, and photographs) shot at Lincoln Park Zoo only for the specific purpose stated in the Location Filming Agreement. The grant of rights in one medium does not convey rights to use any other media, unless so indicated. Under no circumstances may the production company use images (film, video, and photographs) shot at the zoo in a manner inconsistent with the zoo’s mission and image or in a defamatory, false, or censorable manner or nature. The production company shall cease any such use upon demand by Lincoln Park Zoo. Further, the production company shall ensure that its licensees and assignees fully comply with the provisions of this paragraph.

Broadcast Rights

The production company may sell its final product for broadcast by others, but may not sell individual images shot at Lincoln Park Zoo or provided by the zoo separate from its product. In addition, the company may not use images taken at, or provided by, the zoo in connection with productions that do not directly involve the zoo without its prior written consent. The zoo reserves the right to review the scripts for all scenes involving the zoo for factual accuracy and consistency with its mission and image.

Other Uses

The production company is authorized to use film and photographs shot at the zoo in print media, on a website, or in other promotional materials only for the specific purposes stated in the Location Filming Agreement. The zoo shall have the right to review the text and layout of all pages of a publication or website or any other promotional materials that display images taken at the zoo—or mention the zoo’s name—before the publication goes to print, the pages are posted, or the materials are disseminated in order to ensure factual accuracy, consistency with the zoo’s mission and image, and the appropriate credit.

Heavy Equipment (Cranes and Dollies)

The weight of any heavy equipment and the type of tires on cranes and dollies must be cleared through the zoo’s Facilities department prior to shooting.


Tigerlily Events, Lincoln Park Zoo’s official caterer/concessionaire, offers full catering services. Additional private facilities at the zoo may be reserved at an added cost. For more information regarding catering and reservation of meeting space, please ask your public relations contact.


For additional information, email Hyson Gibbon Newson at

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