Beginning Friday, zoos in Texas can reopen their gates to visitors. Both the Fort Worth and Dallas zoos will reopen to the public next Friday, May 29.
The Fort Worth Zoo said it wants the experience to be as close to what it was prior to the pandemic. Perhaps the biggest change will be the reservation system. Visitation will be capped at 25% capacity by online reservations only. Once inside, even more precautions are taken.
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Alexis Wilson said it’s been eerily quiet the past several weeks. It’s why she’s excited about next Friday and the days leading up to it.
“It’s really weird to not hear the laughter that we’re accustomed to,” she said. “Everybody has come back over the last week getting ready.”
Like so many typical springtime hot-spots, The Fort Worth Zoo has been closed to visitors to minimize the spread of the coronavirus. Getting the green light to welcome people back means being extra vigilant.
Visitors will notice what’s called the “clean team” whose sole job is to wipe down frequently touched areas.
“Anything that is touched frequently,” said Wilson. “Whether it’s a door handle or the glass at an aquarium or anything that people could possibly come in contact with throughout the day, we want to be cleaning.”
The zoo will also add hand cleaning stations throughout the park.
“We have bathrooms throughout the zoo that are equipped with soap and water, but we’ve added even more. Because we know that it’s the best thing to be able to offer people,” she said.
Indoor exhibits will remain closed to the public, but the dining area is expected to be up and running. Wilson says they’ve already removed chairs and tables to keep the dining facility at 25% of its normal capacity.
Wilson said social distancing and masks will be encouraged. All staff will wear masks during hours of operation.
Wilson said one frequently asked question is hard to answer. She tells us people are anxious to know whether the animals miss seeing people. It’s not something she thinks we’ll ever know for certain. But she said they are attentive and in tune with their surroundings.
“They probably have noticed that people aren’t here, so we think they’re going to notice that they’re back.”
For more information on the Fort Worth zoo visit https://www.fortworthzoo.org/
For information on the Dallas Zoo’s health and safety precautions visit https://www.dallaszoo.com/
*Map locations are approximate, central locations for the city and are not meant to indicate where actual infected people live.
**County totals below include all 32 North Texas counties, not just Collin, Dallas, Denton and Tarrant.