Brookfield Zoo on Monday announced its phased reopening plan after a months-long closure during the coronavirus pandemic.
The zoo, which has been closed to guests since March 19, will reopen its doors beginning next month.
The zoo will first open for members only beginning July 1, then to the general public on July 8, but only in outdoor areas.
“Brookfield Zoo has been closed for nearly four months and we are eagerly looking forward to welcoming guests back to reconnect with animals and nature,” Stuart Strahl, president and CEO of the Chicago Zoological Society said in a statement. “We have been following guidelines set forth by local, state, and federal government and health agencies to ensure the well-being of our zoo guests, staff, volunteers, and the animals.”
In order to get in, visitors will need to make a reservation. There will also be a series of new "protocols and procedures" in place.
· To ensure safe social distancing, a reserved timed-ticketing system to limit guest capacity is being implemented. Reservation times will be available in 20-minute increments. All admission and parking tickets must be secured by both members and guests prior to arriving. Reservations for time-ticketing will be available soon at CZS.org. No tickets will be sold on site. All tickets are nonrefundable and no rain checks will made.
· To minimize person-to-person contact, the zoo is instituting a cashless environment—only credit card transactions will be accepted at outdoor food and beverage carts and merchandise kiosks.
· Face coverings are required for guests age 2 and over.
· In order to provide adequate social distancing, at this time, all indoor spaces—animal buildings, restaurants, and gift shops—are temporarily closed. Seasonal food stands and outdoor souvenir carts will be open throughout the zoo.
· Other areas temporarily closed include play areas, splash pads, water misters, drinking fountains, The Carousel, Motor Safari tram rides, and Butterflies! (seasonal exhibit). The goat yard at Hamill Family Play Zoo will also be closed, but guests will still be able to feed the goats from a designated area.
· High-touch areas and restrooms will be sanitized with hospital-grade cleaners and conducted on an increased cleaning schedule.
· Hand-sanitizing stations will be located throughout the 216-acre park.
· Signage and visual markers will be located throughout the zoo to remind guests to maintain adequate social distancing.
· The zoo will not be distributing its paper map at the gates. Instead, guests can download it from the zoo’s website or use a phone to take a photo of the large map that will be displayed at both the north and south entrances.
Staff will also have their temperatures checked at the start of each work day, wearing face coverings, and wear gloves if handling food or product.
The outdoor limitation marks the first phase of the zoo's reopening plan, but it remains unclear the zoo will resume indoor access and increase attendance capacity.
The reopening of the zoo comes with the launch of a new, temporary exhibit called Dinos Everywhere!, which was created by "Jurassic Park' advisor Don Lessum.
"Zoogoers will have the chance to explore outdoor areas and embark on a safari in search of all the dinosaurs, including the Argentinosaurus. This massive dinosaur—measuring more than 100 feet in length and standing three-stories tall—can’t be missed on the zoo’s West Mall," the zoo said in a release.
Lincoln Park Zoo in Chicago also announced its reopening plan Monday.
The city's popular zoo will open its doors on June 29 "with limited capacity and strict safety guidelines in place." Zoo members will be able to return earlier with members-only access June 26-28, the zoo said.
Lincoln Park Zoo's closure due to the pandemic marked the first time in 152 years the zoo had closed for an extended period of time.