Cincinnati Zoo Reopens

(Photo courtesy of Angela Hatke. Taken by Michelle Peters.)

Governor DeWine’s latest announcement on reopenings included the fourth and final phase of reopening. Included in the announcement were camps, movie theaters, ice rinks, amusement parks, aquariums, museums, country clubs, indoor entertainment, laser tag, public recreational facilities, playgrounds, social clubs, roller skating rinks, and trampoline parks. 

One of the locations reopening is the Cincinnati Zoo. Angela Hatke, Digital Engagement and Publicity Manager spoke on the zoo’s reopening and the safety measures in place.

“We are so excited to get our guests and members back in the zoo and in a safe way,” said Hatke.  “We’re complying with the CDC guidelines and it should be fun and safe.”

In order to stay busy and keep the animals happy and healthy during the shutdown, the keepers have been keeping up with their work and caring for the animals. The graphics and marketing departments have placed new signage throughout the zoo pertaining to social distancing. 

(Photo courtesy of Angela Hatke. Taken by Michelle Peters.)

The zoo has placed several markers indicating where to stand in order to maintain social distancing.

“We have markers to indicate where people can stand. When you go through Fiona’s area,” Hatke said, “there’s one-way directional signage and hand sanitizer stations all over. For food ordering, we have Grab-n-Go and online ordering so people aren’t congregating. There’s also PA announcements to remind people, and we have face masks that are zoo-themed for those that want them.”

She also noted that masks are not required. Animal feedings, rides, and some indoor habitats will be closed for the time being. The Cincinnati Zoo Facebook and Twitter accounts will be updated as more information comes available. There is no exact plan at this time, as they are mostly still in phase one of their reopening.

“We really want them back, but we want to play it safe,” she said in terms of the feedings and shows.  

The zoo opened on June 10, and the first week up to June 17 was for members only. Hatke mentioned that this week the zoo had a preview day where “we had members come in and there was a red carpet. It was emotional.” After June 17, the zoo will open to the general public, but there are a few changes to the ticketing procedure. 

(Photo courtesy of Angela Hatke. Taken by Michelle Peters.)

In order to attend the zoo, a ticket must be purchased on the zoo website. The ticket will have a set day and arrival time in which the attendee must be at the gate, but once in, guests are allowed to stay as long as they like. The gift shop and indoor dining are closed, but there will be easy options for food. 

Kiosks are placed around the zoo for guests to purchase items they would normally find in the gift shops. Plexiglass has been placed at the registers and food pick up locations for safety. The gate has a touchless entry, where guests can scan their phones or ticket. Hatke recalls, “My mom came to visit…she really enjoyed herself!” She stated that her mom hadn’t left the house much since the pandemic began. 

Hatke said that while most of the animals don’t notice the crowds, Fiona the Hippo certainly would be missing her fans. 

(Photo courtesy of Angela Hatke. Taken by Michelle Peters.)

“The guests are enrichment for the animals,” she said. “Some of the animals have been exploring parts of their habitats that they don’t usually explore.” During the shutdown, some of the keepers would walk the ambassador animals around the zoo at various times, like the Red River Hog meeting the Meerkats and post it on social media. 

As for the future, the zoo has plans to finalize construction on the new Roo Valley and open it later this summer. The new exhibit will allow guests to walk through the enclosure and see the kangaroos up close. There are also two new enclosures for the penguins. In the African penguin enclosure, guests will be able to see them swimming underwater.

Jeri Hensley

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