For the first time in months, the Toronto Zoo is allowing the general public to walk its grounds while following COVID-19 precautions such as timed ticketing.
On Saturday, visitors filed into the zoo at the times they booked in advance online, a new requirement intended to limit crowding.
Jewelle Blackman attended the zoo with her son Zion and his friends for the first time this season.
“It’s a chance for them to kind of hang,” she said.
“They haven’t been able to see each other because of all the rules and everything.”
In addition to limiting visitors, the zoo also now requires face coverings to be worn inside any buildings. Paths are one-way, with hand sanitizer widely available.
“I feel pretty safe, I think,” said Jessie Julien, who visited the zoo with her husband and son. “I mean, as long as there’s enough room so that we’re not so packed in together and I can kind of move around.”
Walking alongside his wife, who pushed his young daughter’s stroller, Ron Miu said he found the new rules to be effective.
“It wasn’t crowded at all,” he said.
“We came in at our allotted time so it wasn’t packed and everyone was being very considerate.”
A route for cars, launched in May and branded the Scenic Safari, continues to run separated from pedestrians.
“People are along a wide spectrum as far as their comfort getting out in the community,” said Dolf DeYong, the zoo’s CEO. “If you are immunocompromised or perhaps you have some challenges physically getting around, you still have that Scenic Safari option to get out.”
The zoo estimates it costs about $1 million a year to feed its animals. DeYong said welcoming guests back is a key part of its funding model.
“We’re slowly going to work our way up making sure … our site can host that volume of people, (that) people can safely physical distance,” he said.
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