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Montreal Ecomuseum reopens for first time in nearly 4 months amid coronavirus pandemic

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WATCH: The West Island Ecomuseum Zoo welcomed its first guests in nearly four months on Friday. As Global’s Brayden Jagger Haines reports, the site has undergone significant modifications to accommodate visitors – Jun 26, 2020

Montreal’s only zoo on the island welcomed visitors for the first time since closing its doors in March due to the novel coronavirus pandemic.

The Ecomuseum officially reopened Friday morning to a line of eager guests.

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READ MORE: ‘It’s torture’ — Closed Ecomuseum Zoo cares for animals without revenue under COVID-19 shutdown

The West Island park welcomed more than 200 visitors on its opening day.

Guests will now have to buy their tickets in advance online.

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“We’re really excited to invite people back, but it feels bizarre for us,” executive director David Rodrigue said.

The park has never closed for as long as did when the pandemic was first declared in March, usually closing just once a year during Christmas holidays.

The Quebec government gave museums and zoos the green light to reopen on June 22.

The Ecomuseum chose to postpone its opening as it put in place numerous safety measures.

The non-profit organization spent an estimated $35,000 to ensure its facility is up to standard.

Throughout the site, hand sanitizer dispensers, clear plastic shielding walls and signage have been put in place.

The zoo has been reconfigured to allow visitors to keep a safe physical distance by following a uni-directional pathway.

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A new wooden platform just across from the eagle enclosure was built, as the new uni-directional path has cut visitor access to their living space.

“We didn’t want to cut out the eagles, but this modification can be used for much more,” Rodrigue said.

Granby Zoo reopened on Saturday 

Granby Zoo had a soft reopening, welcoming its first guest on Saturday.

The zoo’s general manager, Paul Gosselin, said the record heat wave hindered the zoo’s big day as turnout was lower than expected.

“So far, it is going pretty well on site, as people are following the safety measures in place,” Gosselin said.

Gosselin said the zoo capacity is 2,500 people and hopes attendance will jump in the coming days as the zoo will be able to open its water park facility.

READ MORE: Coronavirus — Is Quebec reopening too fast?

Both Granby and Ecomuseum officials say they will not be able to make up for their loss in revenue.

With the four-month closure, as well as the added expenses, both say they will be lucky to break even this year.

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