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Peterborough zoo to reopen for guided tours for city residents

Peterborough's Riverview Park and Zoo will reopen for small guided tours on Aug. 15.
Peterborough's Riverview Park and Zoo will reopen for small guided tours on Aug. 15. Paul Dinsdale/Global News

One of Peterborough’s popular tourist attractions is going to reopen in a reduced fashion this weekend.

The Riverview Park and Zoo is going to open for guided tours of the zoo starting Saturday, Aug. 15.

It has been closed since March due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

Read more: Ontario Stage 3 — Peterborough zoo playgrounds reopening July 22

There will be four 75-minute tours per day five days a week for groups of up to 10 people.

“We’re preparing for one-way tours at the zoo, booked in advance, timed and ticketed so we can control the flow through the zoo,” said Cathy Mitchell, zoo program supervisor. “It will ensure that all staff, volunteers and any animals susceptible to COVID-19 are well-protected.”

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The animals that are susceptible, including the felines, weasels, otters, potbelly pigs and primates, will be available to view, but at a distance.

Tours are available City of Peterborough residents only at this time.

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Tours can be booked starting Friday at 8 a.m. at riverviewparkandzoo.ca.

“This is how we can do it safely,” Mitchell said. “We are asking for small donations to keep our resources going so that we can offer more tours.”

Meanwhile, other zoo attractions such as the splash pad, miniature train ride, buildings and facility rentals remain closed.

Staff are working to eventually reopen these amenities as well, although there is no set date at this point.

They are working with public health on several scenarios to reopen.

“Ideally we would reopen to a limited capacity of visitors with a one-way direction through the zoo.  That’s the ultimate goal,” Mitchell said.

Read more: Coronavirus — Peterborough Public Library to reopen Aug. 25

The playground is open and picnic areas can be used if pre-booked.

“There are washrooms for the picnic and shelter facilities. We just need to know you’re coming so we can open the gates. We’ve really upped our game to make sure everything is clean,” she said.

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Anyone who uses the facilities is asked to take their garbage with them.

“We are thrilled. We’ve been closed since March and we welcome a quarter-million visitors between Victoria Day and Thanksgiving Day normally during peak hours,” Mitchell said.

“It’s been very strange to not have the kids and families here. It’s been a large challenge. Even some of the animals miss the presence of the visitors who give them enrichment by visiting. The morale will be great. We cannot wait to get started again.”

Mitchell said the tours will be available to city residents only at first with the hope of adding more communities at a later date.

The tours will wrap up on Labour Day.