Elmwood Park, Philadelphia zoos prepare to welcome back limited visitors

John McDevitt
June 23, 2020 - 1:51 pm

PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — Two Philadelphia-area zoos are getting ready to welcome back visitors after being closed since mid-March because of the coronavirus pandemic, and there are some changes to the old routine.

Elmwood Park Zoo in Norristown opens to the public this Friday.

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Spokesman Shaun Rogers says visitors will have to purchase or reserve timed tickets online — to cut down on crowds.

"They need to arrive at that time," Rogers said, "and their experience at the zoo will be a single-file, directed experience, so we can maintain proper social distancing, and the safety of our guests, our staff and our animals."

The entrance of the Philadelphia Zoo
John McDevitt/KYW Newsradio

Tickets for the Philadelphia Zoo must be purchased or reserved online, too, including for annual members.

Philly’s zoo will open in phases: Members only, at first, on July 6, 7 and 8; and general public starting on July 9.

“And the reason for that is we need to be very careful about our capacity limits to make sure that we have only a third of what our normal visitation would be on any given day at the zoo," Amy Shearer, the zoo's chief marketing officer, said.

The zoo is trying to keep the experience as "touchless" as possible, she said. So food and beverage programs on site will be different.

“We are going to have more grab-and-go selections, and we will have touchless transactions. And of course people are allowed to bring their own food as well," she said.

“We will have clean team staffers that are dedicated to sanitizing and cleaning high-touch areas around the zoo," Shearer said. And hand-sanitizing stations will be set up throughout the zoo.

Shearer says the beloved zoo key and talking storybook boxes will be off-limits for now.

“But they’ll be back. Don’t worry. And we'll let everyone know when they come back on board," she said. "But for now it’s probably in everyone’s best interest that we keep them at a safe distance and closed down for everyone until that day arrives.”

Indoor exhibits will not be open. And all guests 8 years old and over are required to wear masks.

Philadelphia Zoo storybook box key
John McDevitt/KYW Newsradio