ROYAL OAK, Mich. – The Detroit Zoo has finally reopened, but there are new rules regarding reservations, social distancing, wearing a mask and eating due to the coronavirus (COVID-19).
For many Metro Detroiters, summer can’t officially start until they’ve taken a visit to the Detroit Zoo. As of Monday, that’s a possibility.
But as with many other reopenings around the state, the zoo will look and feel different due to the pandemic.
Masks and social distancing
The zoo opened Monday for members, and non-members can visit starting Friday (June 12). When you’re at the zoo, you’ll see new sanitizing stations and signs reminding visitors to keep their distance and wear face masks.
Zoo members were eager to finally get back to some type of normalcy Monday.
“Just pure joy and they’re, like, ‘Oh, the virus is gone.' We’re, like, ‘No, it’s not gone.’ We just need to take some different precautions,” zoo member Steve Schiesel said.
UPDATE -- June 8, 2020: Michigan coronavirus cases up to 58,999; Death toll now at 5,673
“I want to interact with the species, but not the animal species, the human species,” zoo member Jim Harris said.
All visitors older than 2 years old are required to wear masks.
“When I asked, she’s, like, ‘Yes, I’ll wear a mask. I miss going to the zoo,’” zoo member Tricia Carrier said. "She was really excited.
“It’s kind of hot, but we need to wear them,” zoo member Laurel Harris said.
Ron Kagan, executive director and CEO of the Detroit Zoo, said the masks aren’t just to protect visitors. He said some animals can contract COVID-19, so all precautions need to be taken.
“We need to be careful with our endangered species here,” Kagan said. “We’re not doing giraffe (exhibit), for instance, because we want to make sure people don’t get that close.”
Kagan said limiting capacity will leave plenty of room for social distancing.
“We’re a 125-acre park and we’re limiting it to about 1,000 visitors a day,” Kagan said.
Typically, on a normal weekday, the zoo would have around 8,000 visitors. But now, an online reservation is required to keep capacity down.
As for dining options, walk-up stations are open where visitors can eat outside on a patio.
Buddy’s Pizza is offering a to-go service.
Indoor dining is closed until further notice.