Here’s what will be different when the Central Florida Zoo reopens

Sanford zoo closed March 14 due to coronavirus

Rhinos at the Central Florida Zoo.
Rhinos at the Central Florida Zoo.

SANFORD, Fla. – The Central Florida Zoo & Botanical Gardens will reopen Wednesday as Florida remains in phase one of its reopening plan, officials said.

Amid the coronavirus pandemic, the zoo said it will take measures to ensure the safety of visitors, annual pass holders, staff and animals.

Modifications will include limiting in-park attendance to 50% of outdoor capacity, required online timed ticketing for all guests, one-way pathways, additional barriers around certain animal habitats, and closure of high touch-point areas and indoor venues. Guests are also “strongly encouraged” to wear masks, officials said.

“The zoo has been a great destination for the community for many years, and we’re thrilled to be able to reopen following all state, local, CDC, and Association of Zoos and Aquariums guidelines,” said Dino Ferri, CEO. “We want to be an oasis for people to take a break from the stress of the past few months and let them enjoy nature and our animals.”

Below is a list of zoo modifications:

  • Reduced operating hours to allow for additional cleaning and sanitation.
  • Online timed tickets required for all guests, to ensure safe and comfortable capacity and limited contact admissions.
  • A 6 foot minimum of physical distancing will be required, monitored, and enforced throughout the property.
  • Based on current State guidelines, the zoo’s limited indoor venues will remain closed, including the Insect Zoo, Zoofari Outpost Gift Shop, Bear House, and Herpetarium.
  • High touch-points in the zoo, including the Wharton-Smith Tropical Splash Ground, the KaBoom! Playground will be closed.
  • In-park feedings and encounters are suspended until further notice.
  • Activities that would encourage the congregation of any group of more than 10 people, such as chats and shows, will not be offered.
  • Seminole Aerial Adventures will not be operating at this time.
  • Sonny’s BBQ will operate from 10:30 a.m. to 3 p.m.
  • Enhanced cleaning protocols will be enacted throughout the day.
  • Additional training and PPE required for all zoo employees.

Prior to the zoo’s closure on March 14, additional antibacterial hand sanitizer dispensers were placed at key exit and entry points throughout the zoo. Additional signage to promote hand washing and best hygiene practices will be posted throughout the park.

The zoo will open an hour early on Tuesdays from 9-10 a.m. to accommodate vulnerable guests. Tickets must be purchased online and in advance through the zoo’s website.

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