SANFORD, Fla. – The Central Florida Zoo & Botanical Gardens announced it would be entering phase two of its reopening process alongside most of the state under Gov. Ron DeSantis’ guidelines.
The zoo initially closed March 14 as much of Central Florida scrambled to protect the health of guests at local attractions as COVID-19 quickly spread through the region. The zoo then entered its phase one of reopening on May 13.
Now as part of phase two of reopening, the zoo has gradually relaxed some of its rules and regulations for guests, including “limiting in-park attendance to 50% capacity, requiring online timed ticketing for all guests, additional barriers around certain animal habitats, and the continued closure of certain attractions and indoor venues.” Park officials also said guests entering the zoo will be “strongly encouraged to wear a mask.”
Zoo officials said the park is following a Reopening and Modified Operations Plan that has been approved by the Seminole County Emergency Management leaders.
“The support from our community since we reopened has been great,” CEO Dino Ferri said. “All our guests have been respectful and understanding of our modified operations, so we’re thankful for everyone’s patience as we continue to work to ensure the Zoo is a clean and safe place for our guests, volunteers, staff, and animals.”
New modifications, plus mainstays from phase one, include:
- Hours from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. daily.
- The Wharton-Smith Tropical Splash Ground, the KaBoom! Playground, and the Spectrum News13 Children’s Garden have reopened.
- The Zoofari Outpost Gift Shop is open and will be monitored to ensure occupancy limits.
- Based on current state guidelines, the zoo’s limited indoor venues will begin opening this week with capacity limits of 50% being monitored. This includes the Insect Zoo, Bear House and Herpetarium.
- Sonny’s BBQ will operate from 10:30 a.m. to 3 p.m.
- A six-foot minimum of physical distancing will be required, monitored and enforced throughout the property.
- In-park animal feedings and encounters, as well as keeper chats and shows, are suspended until further notice.
- Enhanced cleaning protocols continue to be practiced throughout the park.
Officials said the zoo will continue to offer a special hour on Tuesdays from 9 a.m. to 10 a.m. where vulnerable guests may visit the park with additional accommodations. Tickets must be purchased online, in advance, through the zoo’s website at www.centralfloridazoo.org/tickets.