KANSAS CITY, MO (KCTV) -- After being closed for almost two months because of the COVID-19 outbreak, the Kansas City Zoo will reopen for visitors on Saturday.
Of course, the reopening comes with changes in place for the safety of zoo animals, guests, and staff.
Kansas City Zoo Director Randy Wisthoff said they've done a lot of planning to ensure visitors can still have a great experience while keeping safety the top priority.
“The zoo is opening tomorrow morning! We are excited!” he said. He then added, “There are so many unknowns. So, we’ve tried to take every precaution we can think of.”
One of the changes visitors will notice are one-way traffic exhibits. There will also be limited food and beverage options. Everything the zoo is serving will be wrapped.
Also, certain zoo rides, the playgrounds, and the animal feeding stations will be temporarily closed.
“We’ll have the tram open, but it will be socially spaced,” Wisthoff said. “We won’t put people in every row.”
Wistoff said there are over 200 acres at the zoo and their overall occupancy varies. “On a really busy Saturday and Sunday in May, we can do 12,000 to 15,000 people,” Wisthoff said.
They’ve also had upwards 30,000 people in one day. Therefore, they’re going to cap attendance at 4,500 per day for now.
Another process that will look different.
“You’ll be assigned a time and that’s when you’ll be allowed entry into the zoo,” said Wisthoff. “We’re offering about 150 to 175 tickets every 15 minutes.”
“Usually, when you come to the zoo we have set times where you can come and meet with one of the keepers that works with the animal,” said Animal Care Manager Lindsay Class.
So, another change visitors will notice is the way zoo chats will be conducted. Instead of being live and in-person, you’ll simply bring your smart phone up to a QR code sign that will take you to a pre-recorded zoo chat by one of their zookeepers.
“We’ll tell you a little bit about our animals, what’s going on with them in the wild, how you can help,” Class said.
Although things will look and feel a bit different, Class assures people the animals will be happy to have visitors back.
“They miss the interaction,” she said. “They miss the enrichment of just watching what the public does when they come out here.”
Wisthoff said they’re taking everything one step at a time and they plan to modify guidelines in the coming months.
He said they’re not requiring guest to wear masks, but do strongly recommend it for safety purposes.