“Everything you love about the zoo is still here. We have 3,000 incredible animals, a beautiful campus - the zoo has never looked better - but of course we have new processes in place for covid-19,” Kubie said.
Zoo members, who were able to visit Wednesday and Thursday before the public opening, got a sneak preview of the new safety measures.
Arrows chalked on the ground. Divided walking lanes. Roundabouts. And helpful zoo staff on lifeguard stands coaching masked visitors through the process.
The biggest change is the ticket system. Visitors reserve tickets online at denverzoo.org for timed-entry spots, staggered by 15-minute entry windows to limit the number of guests.
“Anybody who’s been to Denver Zoo on a busy summer day knows how crowded it can get. Parking lots can be full, and we can be looking at 12,000 even 15,000 people on a really busy day,” Kubie said. “Right now, in accordance with our agreement with the Colorado Department of Health and Environment, we can let in 300 people an hour, which comes out to about 2,400 people a day.”
Once at the zoo, guests can choose a one-way path that goes all the way around the zoo and includes the majority of animals and exhibits, or a shortcut that’s about an hour long.
“The good news for people who visit is that you feel like you have the zoo to yourself. 300 people spread out over 80 acres is pretty low density, pretty low capacity. It’s actually a really wonderful experience to come to the zoo right now,” Kubie said.
Some of the first zoo members to experience the new system agreed.
“Although we’re wearing masks, it was a very positive experience, and I feel like everybody was safe today and responsible,” one visitor said.
“We’ve missed the zoo, for sure, and just to be back out here again is awesome. Just to be able to walk through and see the animals again is so much fun,” another said.
As mandated by the City of Denver, all employees and guests over the age of three are required to wear a mask. The zoo’s full safety strategy can be viewed at denverzoo.org and includes physical distancing throughout the zoo, health screening for employees, and new cleaning procedures.
Due to demand for limited tickets, the zoo is extending their hours to 8:30am to 7pm every day, with final entry at 5:45pm, starting Saturday, June 13.