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Edmonton Valley Zoo to reopen, but with some changes amid COVID-19 pandemic

Edmonton Valley Zoo preparing to reopen
WATCH ABOVE: The Edmonton Valley Zoo is preparing to reopen, so our Morgan Black got a sneak peek of how things will be different once the public is allowed back in.

After closing on March 14 amid the COVID-19 pandemic, the Edmonton Valley Zoo has announced it’s ready to open its gates on June 15.

But regular visitors will notice some changes.

“We will be providing an enjoyable visitor experience with modifications in place to protect the health and safety of our visitors, staff and animals,” director Lindsey Galloway said.

READ MORE: Edmonton playgrounds and zoo to reopen, paid parking coming back as relaunch continues

Tickets will no longer be available for purchase at the gate. Anyone looking to visit the zoo will need to first purchase their ticket online.

Because the daily attendance will be capped at 1,500 people, each ticket will come with a specific entry time in an effort to ensure physical distancing and allowing the zoo to manage crowds. Only 90 tickets will be issued for every 30-minute window.

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The Edmonton Valley Zoo has put in a number of safety precautions as it prepares to reopen on June 15 amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Edmonton Valley Zoo has put in a number of safety precautions as it prepares to reopen on June 15 amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Morgan Black/Global News

“Once inside, visitors are welcome to explore the zoo at their own pace,” the zoo said in a news release.

READ MORE: Alberta zoos putting protections in place for big cats amid COVID-19 pandemic

Both indoor and outdoor traffic areas will be marked with signs and arrows to ensure one-way traffic is followed. Features like animal talks, rides, play structures and stroller rentals will not be available.

The Edmonton Valley Zoo has put in a number of safety precautions as it prepares to reopen on June 15 amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Edmonton Valley Zoo has put in a number of safety precautions as it prepares to reopen on June 15 amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Morgan Black/Global News

“Everyone knows how grocery stores work at this point. We’ve been watching zoos across North America as they reopen. Everyone seems to understand and respect social distancing,” Galloway said. “We believe public education will go a long way. But, we’ve got signage and hand sanitizer just to be sure.”

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Some buildings like the Elephant House and some areas of the Saito Centre will also remain closed as physical distancing will be difficult to maintain. High-touch display areas will also remain closed.

“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.”

A look inside the currently closed Edmonton Valley Zoo
A look inside the currently closed Edmonton Valley Zoo

Hand sanitizer will be provided in various location and the zoo will be enhancing its cleaning procedures of public spaces. Visitors are also encouraged to wear masks.

Galloway said the Zoo has been hard at work with preparations and took a few weeks to work out the details.

“The last two weeks have been very intensive. Getting everything in place, getting organized has taken a lot of work,” he said.

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Now, other Edmonton attractions are turning to the zoo as a template.

“We’ve heard from others. They’ve expressed interest in wanting to come over and see what we’re doing. We are all looking to learn from one another.”

READ MORE: Creature comforts: a look inside the currently closed Edmonton Valley Zoo

The Zoo-tique gift shop, Moo at the Zoo, 40 Acres and Sandwich and Sons will be open with modifications.

Throughout the shutdown, 45 animal care team members remained to look after its residents.

“We’ve brought back about 20 people [who had been laid off] to help support the reopening.”

– With a file from Caley Ramsay, Global News