The Sedgwick County Zoo will begin a phased reopening this month that it says complies with state and local guidelines.
The zoo, like many attractions, closed in March because of the pandemic. It is one of the state’s largest tourist attractions.
Phase one begins May 18 with a soft opening for members only. The zoo said in a news release the soft open will give its staff an opportunity to respond to any issues that may arise with new procedures before opening to the public.
On May 21, the zoo opens up to the general public with a daily capacity of 1,000. Tickets must be purchased online, and they will be sold in half-hour blocks from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. A limited number of tickets will be sold during each block.
Zoo members and senior citizens can purchase early bird tickets at 8 a.m. and 8:30 a.m.
Visitors must enter the zoo during their time block. Once inside, they can stay as long as they wish.
Beginning June 1, timed admittance will still be in place but the daily capacity will increase to 2,000.
Zoo officials say hand sanitizing stations will be added, restrooms will be cleaned every two hours and frequent touchpoints will be disinfected routinely.
Zoo staff will wear masks and other personal protective equipment. Visitors are encouraged to wear masks.
The zoo will place markers in high-traffic areas to keep guests apart. Paths will have directional suggestions to keep visitors moving in one direction. Exhibit buildings will have limits based on square footage.
All restaurants in the zoo will operate from outdoor service windows only.
Zoo officials said certain attractions and areas will be closed for the first two phases, including:
- Keeper Chats
- Animal Extras
- Wild Encounters
- Water fountains
- Farm contact yards
- Boat rides
- Giraffe feedings
- Koch Orangutan & Chimpanzee Habitat
- Downing Gorilla Forest
The final phases of reopening have yet to be determined. Zoo officials said they will determine guidelines and restrictions based on advice from state and local governments.
Tickets will go on sale Monday at scz.org for the first two phases.
David Garcia is an intern in the KMUW News Lab.