SAN DIEGO (KGTV)-- Saturday marks the end to the San Diego Zoo's longest closure in its 103-year history. For the first time since the COVID-19 pandemic forced a shutdown in mid-March, the zoo is back open. Visitors were happy to return to one of our city's jewels, even with some changes.
For the last three months, visitors have been anxious to come to the grand reopening on Saturday.
"The turtles are kind of big and funny," laughed little Kitara. The grade-schooler celebrated her birthday two days ago, and Saturday was her first big outing since.
The zoo has made some modifications to operations and guest rules:
- Face coverings are required for all guests over two years of age
- People must practice social distancing
- There are limited dining and shopping, overall reduced park hours
- Operating at 50% guest capacity
- Limited guest parking
- Members and guests will not be allowed to leave the parks and re-enter on the same day
- One-way path adjustments, plexi-glass, and barriers to help guests navigate safely
- Increased number of hand-washing and sanitizing locations
- Robust cleaning routine
Throughout the park, staff members will guide people to move along to discourage crowding.
"I think they help people maintain social distancing really well," pass holder, Valerie Warren said. "They're very informative, and have all sorts of information for everybody on where to go and what to do, so I think they're doing an amazing job."
The most significant change guests may see is at the primates exhibit.
"It can affect some of our animals," Sofia Springer, the zoo's Operations Manager said.
Scientists say primates have been known to catch some human respiratory illnesses. Their immunity to COVID-19 is not certain. But the zoo isn't taking any chances.
"We've provided barriers and one-way pathways to keep the guests from getting too close to those areas."
But there are many other exhibits where you can get up close to the animals. For visitors like little Kitara, that is what the San Deigo Zoo is all about.
"I like it, and it smells disgusting in there, but I still like it!" she laughed.
The Zoo's Guided Bus Tour, Kangaroo Bus, and Skyfari Aerial Tram, as well as the Safari Park's Africa Tram, will remain closed during the first reopening phase to comply with social distancing protocols.
Click HERE for more information on the San Diego Zoo's reopening.