Zoo Announces Reopening Plan

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Zoo Announces Reopening Plan

Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium plans to open its outdoor exhibits on Monday, June 1, 2020, after being closed to the public since March 16 due to the coronavirus crisis. The opening of the Zoo is planned as a one-way “walking safari,” including social distancing, and enhanced cleaning and disinfecting protocols based on health and safety guidelines provided by state and local authorities. Guests are strongly encouraged to wear face masks while on  Zoo property.

The June 1 reopening is a one-way walk through Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium. Pawprints have been added in high-traffic areas to assist with 6-foot socially distancing, while directional signage and barriers mark the 1.8-mile walking path. The Main Gate will be used for entering the Zoo only and the North Gate will be used for exiting only. This is important for guests to know regarding parking and vehicle location. 

“We are excited to reopen and welcome everyone back to the Zoo,” said Dennis Pate, director and CEO of Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium. “We are so grateful for the outpouring of community support during our closure.” Dennis Pate continued, “The Zoo’s reopening plan has been done with deliberate thought and discussion to keep the safety of our guests, animals, and employees as our utmost priority. Our plan is very conservative, but we believe that by taking one careful step at a time, we can assure a safe and enjoyable Zoo experience for all.”

To limit contact and adhere to social distancing guidelines, guests must make a reservation for a time to enter the Zoo in advance of their visit at OmahaZoo.com/Hours-and-Admission. This process will also allow capacity guidelines to be managed throughout the day, keeping attendance to approximately 2700 visitors at any time. Reservations can be made up to 2 days in advance of the visit. Timeslots are available every half hour between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. daily. There will be a Members Only hour from 8 to 9 a.m. on Monday, June 1 through Sunday, June 7. 

To ensure proper social distancing, guests are encouraged not to meet others or stand in the Main Entrance Plaza until their reservation time to enter the Zoo. Visitors are also strongly encouraged to remain in their vehicles until their reservation time. IDs and online registration receipts will be checked at the entrance by Zoo staff. Tickets are discounted at  $20.95 for guests ages 12 and over, $13.95 for children ages 3 to 11, and $19.95 for seniors ages 65 and over. Children under the age of 16-years-old must be accompanied by an adult.

Restrooms, concessions, and retail items will be available at outside venues only. Drinking fountains and water refill stations will not be available. There will be no public access to indoor buildings including exhibits, restaurants, ATMs, and the gift shop. Rides are limited to Sue’s Carousel, with appropriate spacing and sanitizing. The tram service will not be operational, but a limited supply of stroller, wagon, ECVs and wheelchair rentals will be available.

There will also be no access to the Bay Family Children’s Adventure Trails, Scott Alaskan Adventure Splash Park, or other children activity areas, including the Lion’s Pride statues. These areas are clearly marked as no public access with signage and barriers. 

The Zoo is committed to the safety and well-being of our guests, animals, and employees, and will make changes as needed based on actual operating conditions and guidance from public health experts and elected officials. The Fact Sheet accompanying this press release includes further details and the general principles guiding the plan for reopening Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium to Zoo members and the public. Click Here to Read the Fact Sheet

While the Zoo gates were closed due to the Coronavirus crisis, dedicated staff continued to care for over 30,000 animals every day. Because of the closure, there is a significant revenue shortfall expected. In response, the Omaha Zoo Foundation has launched an Emergency Fund campaign to support ongoing Zoo operations. Members of the community who would like to contribute can visit the Zoo’s website, OmahaZoo.com.

Posted by Diane Kohout at 12:48 PM