Norfolk, Va. – After more than three months of being closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Virginia Zoo will reopen its gates to the public on June 25, 2020, with some modifications and a new schedule.
“The staff and animals have missed seeing all of our visitors, so we are anxiously waiting to welcome everyone back through our gates,” said Greg Bockheim, Executive Director of the Virginia Zoo. “Your next visit to the Zoo will look a different, but the health and safety for our animals and human friends is our top priority, which is why we have created our own staged opening approach to ensure a safe environment, positive and fun experience for everyone,” Bockheim added.
During its first stage, the Zoo has implemented some important changes to its operations:
- The Zoo will limit capacity - about 25% of its normal visitorship - to ensure no overcrowding. All tickets must be purchased and reserved in advance for a specific time slot – this even applies to Zoo members. Reservations are available beginning at 10 am with the last reservation at 3 pm.
- The Zoo will be open to the public and its members, Thursday to Monday. Tuesday and Wednesdays will be for Zoo Members only. The hours are 10 am to 5 pm and reservations are required.
- Tickets and reservations will be available, Tuesday, June 16 at 10 am and can be made up to 2 weeks in advance.
- The Zoo will be a one-way, one-mile loop. This includes Asia, the Animal Wellness Campus, Africa and Flora Point. Food and beverages can be purchased throughout the Zoo, strollers and wheelchairs will also be available for rent on a first-come, first-serve basis. Run Wild! Nature Play will be open for visitors to enjoy. Some amenities and exhibits will be temporarily closed, including the World of Reptiles, ZooFarm, ZooTrain, Enrichment Playground, Gift Shop, Water Plaza and Membership Office. Keeper Chats, ZooLive! Stage presentations and other animal encounters will be postponed.
- To help ensure the safety of all guests, and to comply with all state and local regulations, all Zoo staff and volunteers will be required to wear masks. Per mandated regulations in Virginia, all visitors ages 10 and up will be required to wear a mask upon entry into the Zoo, indoors or when within 6 feet of those from a different group. Increased cleaning protocols have been mandated and hand sanitizing stations will be located throughout the Zoo.
The Zoo will have a soft opening for its members, staff and volunteers June 22-24. Memberships will be extended for any that were current on March 13 or have been purchased or renewed since then. Zoo staff is the process of adding time to memberships and temporary membership cards will be emailed with the new expiration dates.
When it is safe to do so, capacity will be increased, and walkups will eventually resume. Indoor exhibits will open with limited capacity and amenities will return. Please visit virginiazoo.org for opening status and updates, and to reserve your tickets beginning June 16.