CINCINNATI — The Cincinnati Zoo says it plans to reopen with limited crowds, indoor exhibits closed and tickets only sold in advance online.
No date has been set, the zoo said Friday.
New protocols have been put in place to provide the safest environment possible for guests, staff and animals in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the zoo said in a release.
Tickets will be timed to limit the number of people entering and walking through the zoo at any time.
Visitors will be able to walk around the hippo and elephant exhibits, but indoor spaces, the train and the carousel will be closed initially.
"Visitors will be able to enjoy the beauty of the botanical garden and see lions, giraffes, zebras, cheetahs, rhinos, Fiona, and many other animals in their outdoor habitats,” said zoo director Thane Maynard.
"It’s been a long and hard couple of months, and we’re ready to be able to welcome visitors back. We hope that the state will give us the green light to open soon. The zoo brings joy to so many people."
In phase one of reopening, maximum visitor capacity will be 25-50%.
Only members with reservations will be admitted in the first week in appreciation for their support during the COVID-19 shutdown, the zoo announced.
By the second week, a limited number of general admission tickets may be reserved online.
Reservation confirmations will include a specific time to arrive and information about where to park, wait, and enter the zoo.
The zoo is working on "touchless" entry and adding hand-sanitizing stations. Wheelchairs and strollers will not be rented.
Staff members will wear masks and visitors will be encouraged to do so.
There will be markers on the ground to remind people to socially distance – or as Maynard said, "to stay a zebra length apart."
“It’s not going to be the traditional Zoo experience,” said Maynard. “I’ll be wearing a mask. Employees will wear masks, and visitors are highly encouraged to wear them, too. The more we do to keep each other safe and healthy, the sooner we can welcome more visitors back and maybe even return to normal.”
Maynard did not say when indoor exhibits might be opened.
“It might be a while before visitors can see reptiles, insects, manatees and other animals in indoor habitats,” said Maynard.
In a release, the zoo said it is actively engaging with local health officials and following state guidelines. It will amend protocols for staff and visitors and remain adaptive as the situation evolves.
SEE more details about the zoo's reopening plan at http://cincinnatizoo.org/prepare-for-your-zoo-visit.