Zoo visitors will find many new COVID-19 safety features, alongside all the usual fun, at the Edmonton Valley Zoo when it reopens on Monday, June 15.
"We’re looking forward to reopening, but things are going to look a little different,” said Lindsey Galloway, Director of the Edmonton Valley Zoo, which normally sees some 400,000 visitors each year. “We will be providing an enjoyable visitor experience with modifications in place to protect the health and safety of our visitors, staff and animals.”
The zoo will be open from 10 a.m. - 5 p.m. daily. Edmontonians are invited to come visit, and do so in a safe way and in compliance with public health orders and guidelines.
One of the main changes to zoo operations is tickets will no longer be sold at the gate. Starting June 11, visitors and zoo members must book their tickets online at movelearnplayedmonton.ca
Because daily attendance is capped at 1,500 people, half of normal capacity, each ticket comes with a specific entry time, allowing visitors to pick the time they want to visit and enabling the zoo to manage crowds and ensure physical distancing. Once inside, visitors are welcome to explore the zoo at their own pace.
Outdoor areas and indoor areas of the zoo will be open to one-way traffic and are marked by signs and arrows. Animal talks, rides, play structures and stroller rentals will not be available. The Zoo-tique gift shop and zoo food vendors: Moo at the Zoo, 40 Acres and Sandwich and Sons, will be open with modifications.
Buildings where physical distancing is difficult to maintain or where there are high-touch displays will remain closed, including the Elephant House and some indoor areas of Saito Centre.
The zoo is also making a number of changes in order to follow public health guidelines, including providing hand sanitizer at numerous locations, enhancing cleaning procedures of public spaces and putting up signs to encourage physical distancing. Visitors are encouraged to wear masks.
The re-opening can't come soon enough for regular visitors like Angela Hick-Ewing and family. The Morinville-based veterinary nurse, husband Trevor Ewing, children Zaphira, 6, and three year-old Aryssa were regular patrons at EVZ before COVID-19 shut down what had become an almost weekly activity. "If it was over five degrees out, we were there," she said.
"My dad would take the kids to the zoo if we had to work, or pull them from school and make the trip there. Recently, he (Wayne Hick) and mom even gave us an annual pass for the first time because we go so often," said Hick-Ewing, whose family would spend 3-6 hours each visit, enjoying the zoo's wide-open paths and exhibits.
“We know our visitors will do their part to follow public health guidelines, including staying on the marked paths and following all safety directions,” Galloway said. “We are committed to ensuring the zoo experience is an enjoyable and safe one.”
For more information, including new facility guidelines and a map showing one-way paths, visit valleyzoo.ca