Manitobans will soon be able to see tigers, meerkats and their beloved polar bears in person again.
The Assiniboine Park Zoo will reopen on Wednesday after closing March 18 as part of a general shutdown of all but essential services to reduce the spread of COVID-19 in Manitoba.
“As a large and mostly outdoor attraction, we are very happy to be in a position to reopen and welcome visitors back to the zoo,” Bruce Keats, chief operations officer for the Assiniboine Park Conservancy, said in a news release.
“We look forward to providing an enjoyable visitor experience, with modifications in place to protect the health and safety of our visitors, staff, volunteers and animals.”
The zoo will be open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily, its regular operating hours, but will be allowing significantly fewer people in at a time in order to allow for physical distancing.
The outdoor areas of the zoo will be open but all play structures and the zoo’s gift shop will remain closed, as well as buildings where physical distancing is hard to maintain or where there are high-touch displays. The popular Gateway to the Arctic exhibit, where people can see polar bears swim in underwater viewing tunnels, will remain open, Keats said Monday.
The zoo is also making a number of changes in order to follow public health guidelines, including providing hand santizer at numerous locations, enhancing its cleaning procedures, putting up signs to encourage physical distancing and asking visitors to exit west of the main entrance.
The zoo is not asking visitors to wear masks but they are welcome to do so.
“We are doing our part to reduce the risk of community spread of COVID-19 and are asking our guests to support us in that effort when visiting the zoo,” Keats said.
During the last eight weeks, the zoo has organized live streams featuring different animals, allowing viewers to watch the animals, ask questions live and learn about topics like conservation, veterinary care and positive reinforcement.
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