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Riverview Park and Zoo in Peterborough to reopen Nov. 26 after closure for COVID-19 pandemic

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The Riverview Park & Zoo, in Peterborough, Ont. is reopening Nov. 26. The zoo has been closed to the public, apart from limited guided tours, during the pandemic. – Nov 19, 2021

The Riverview Park and Zoo, in Peterborough, Ont., is reopening to the public on Nov. 26, after being closed, apart from limited guided tours, for nearly two years due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Jim Moloney, zoo manager and curator, said staff are looking forward to having people back on the grounds.

“We are very excited to let everyone know that we have been given the go-ahead to reopen the zoo area to the visiting public,”  Moloney said. “We’ve been missing the public like crazy and we have had a lot of feedback from the public who are eager to get back.”

Read more: Riverview Park and Zoo expands tours for Step 3

Moloney said the usual COVID-19 protocols will be in place, including physical distancing and wearing masks, at all times, while on the zoo grounds. He also said they have some new barriers to protect the animals.

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“Some of our animals are susceptible to COVID and we need to protect them as well, so we are just asking people not to cross those barriers and keep that extra distance,” Moloney said.

He added that proof of vaccination is not required to visit the zoo.

Read more: Some animals at Riverview Park and Zoo in Peterborough might be lonely during the pandemic

And it seems that visitors aren’t the only ones missing the experience. Cathy Mitchell, the zoo’s program supervisor, said some animals also noticed the public’s absence.

“Not all animals will miss having people around,” Mitchell said. “But for certain species like our camels, our lynx, our otters, and our meerkats, seeing people and visitors is part of their enrichment.”

Moloney said that the reopening isn’t the only exciting thing happening. Changes will also be coming to the zoo’s iconic miniature train.

“The train that so many of us have ridden on, and brought our kids or grandchildren to, was purchased in 1974 and when it was bought, it was actually a used train so it has a lot of kilometres on it, a lot of hours,” Moloney said.

“About two million visitors have ridden the train over the years but we are in a position now where we want to make sure things are reliable and we have to replace the train,” he said.

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Read more: Peterborough Riverview Park & Zoo accepting donations to help animals

But Moloney said not to worry if you’re feeling nostalgic. The zoo is planning to operate the train — pending pandemic restrictions — during the 2022 season.

As for what will happen to the aging locomotive, Moloney said they aren’t entirely sure yet, but are looking at trade-in options to offset the cost of a newer model.

(Though, when asked, he didn’t rule out the idea of the train remaining somewhere on zoo grounds.)

Moloney said they are raising money toward the some $650,000 price tag of a new train and are selling commemorative puzzles to earn some cash.

If you’d like to buy a puzzle or donate to the cause, you can visit the Riverview Park & Zoo website.

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