CLEVELAND, Ohio (WOIO) - The Cleveland Metroparks Zoo is ready to reopen next week, but with several new policies to promote safety and uphold social distancing standards.
Ohio permitted zoos to reopen on June 10, along with several other categories of entertainment venues and community facilities.
However, the Cleveland Metroparks Zoo confirmed it will open its doors a week later on June 17 to ensure it is ready to fully reopen safely with guidelines and best practices from the state and CDC to help stop the spread of COVID-19.
According to the Zoo, the initial maximum daily visitor capacity at Cleveland Metroparks Zoo will be reduced by approximately 75% upon reopening and reservations will be required in advance.
Zoo attractions including the 4-D Theater, Circle of Wildlife Carousel, and Boomerang Line train, will be operating with 50% capacity to allow for social distancing and will be temporarily closed for 15 minutes each hour for cleaning and sanitation.
Guests are encouraged to follow CDC guidelines and wear masks at the Zoo.
Park signage and Zoo staff at guest viewing areas will help promote social distancing between family groups, according to the Zoo.
According to the Zoo, several exhibit areas will operate in one-way directional flow, including Rosebrough Tiger Passage, Asian Highlands, Wolf Lodge, the inside of the African Elephant Crossing, and the outside of the Primate, Cat & Aquatics building.
The Zoo said there will also be some attractions and services closed or canceled due to safety and operational constraints caused by the coronavirus crisis, including:
- All playground areas closed
- The Contact Yard and Camel Ride experienced closed
- Tram service unavailable
- The indoor sections of certain buildings like the Primate, Cat, & Aquatics building and Sarah Allison Steffee Center may be temporarily closed depending on capacity and staff limitations
The Zoo said it will continue to evaluate areas and attractions and reopen them as safety and operational constraints allow.
The RainForest will also remain closed through at least fall 2020.
However, the Zoo said this is because construction is still underway to replace the iconic geodesic dome with state-of-the-art technology to improve lighting, energy efficiency, and animal habitats.
Drinking fountains, first aid stations, nursing facilities, and restrooms will be open for guests.
Weather permitting, all concessions and gift shops will be open with the exception of The RainForest and Gift Shop.
The Zoo also said guest queues and food court tables will be spaced out to provide social distancing.
Visitors are also still permitted to bring their own food and drinks, with the exception of glass products and alcohol.
The Zoo confirmed wheelchair and stroller rentals will still be available, and they will be disinfected between uses.
The Zoo will be open from 9:30 a.m. - 4 p.m. daily.
General admission tickets for non-members are $16.95 for adults, $14.95 for seniors (age 62 and over) and $12.95 for children (ages 2 – 11).
Children under two do not need a ticket.
The Zoo said the Total Experience Pass powered by Cleveland Public Power allows guests unlimited access to the 4-D Theater, Circle of Wildlife Carousel and Boomerang Line train rides, plus a KeyBank ZooKey.
The Total Experience Pass saves guests save 35% by costing $8.50/$8 members, and save you $1 at Ben Gogolick Giraffe Encounter.
The Cleveland Metroparks Zoo first closed on March 16 as a precaution to the COVID-19 pandemic, and has remained closed for nearly three months to abide by the state’s orders.
“After nearly three months, we can’t wait to reopen Cleveland Metroparks Zoo to our community,” said Cleveland Metroparks Zoo Executive Director Chris Kuhar, PhD. “As we work diligently to reopen, safety will continue to be our number one priority to protect our employees, guests and all of the animals in our care.”
In the meantime, guests have been able to drive around the zoo since May 20 to get an up-close look at giraffes and elephants from their cars for the first time since 1907 with Cruise the Zoo.
This event puts the “fun” in fundraiser because proceeds from this drive-thru event helps raise money to continue animal care efforts during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Cruise the Zoo will continue until Sunday, June 14, and tickets are still available for this limited-time event by clicking here.
“We want to thank the community for their overwhelming support over the past several months,” said Kuhar. “While we prepare to reopen, there are still a few opportunities left to experience the Zoo from your vehicle for the first time in over 100 years.”
The Cleveland Metroparks Zoo said it will provide an update on the safety precautions it will have in place prior to reopening.
Cleveland Metroparks Zoo memberships will be reactivated on June 17.
To make up for lost days, all memberships that were valid during the Zoo’s required closure will be automatically extended.