Austin Zoo reopens today and implements “No Mask, No Entry” policy during COVID-19 pandemic

The Austin Zoo is roaring back to life. All visitors will be required to wear a mask and buy tickets online.

Austin ZooToday, the zoo will reopen for the first time since the pandemic came to Austin. Facility employees have installed orange plastic fencing to enforce greater social distancing between COVID-19-susceptible animals and people. According to Executive Director Patti Clark, the zoo is planning to reopen in a limited capacity May 18, with online ticket sales beginning May 13. To limit the number of guests at the zoo at a given time, she said, tickets will only be available online and to visit during specific windows of time.

The animals are still very visible, though. The fencing, while guiding visitors down a one-way path, does not stand in front of every exhibit.

For example, the wolf-hybrids and tortoise exhibits don’t have additional orange fencing. From what Chambers understands, reptiles cannot contract the virus, and the exhibits for animals like wolf-hybrids are already far enough away from the trails in the zoo.

In April, the Austin Zoo took in another rescue: Zulema the White Bengal Tiger.

Zulema arrived after a drug bust by the Drug Enforcement Agency in South Texas. The tiger is susceptible to the coronavirus and as the newest resident at the Austin Zoo, Chambers is worried people will gather near her enclosure and break social distancing guidelines.

Zulema’s exhibit does not have any orange fencing around it. Chambers said she will probably move around enough that she won’t be in front of any one guest for too long.

Clark said the zoo will also require everyone over age 2 to wear a mask when at the property. She said certain zoo animals, including felines and primates, could be susceptible to the coronavirus, and masks will help keep both animals and visitors more safe.

Other big cat enclosures do have orange fencing in addition to the black, metal barrier that’s been at the Austin Zoo for years.

Other policies in place include, no feeding or petting animals, and tickets must be purchased online. No tickets will be sold at the front entrance; however, guests can buy masks if they did not bring one of their own.

Other zoos to checkout, include the Exotic Resort Zoo in Johnson City, Texas!

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