North Carolina Zoo set to reopen Monday

North Carolina news

ASHEBORO, N.C. (WGHP) — The North Carolina Zoo is just days away from reopening to the public.

The zoo plans to open its doors on Monday, June 15, with some new procedures to keep guests and staff safe.

Guests will be asked to purchase timed tickets for entry into the zoo, and walk-up entry will no longer be available for the time being.

The zoo plans to initially reopen with a 2,000-visitor capacity, and guests must come in and leave through the North America portion of the zoo.

Guests are encouraged to wear a cloth face covering, observe six-foot social distancing, and wash their hands frequently.

Leading up to the anticipated announcement, the zoo’s website displayed a note to guests, stating, “The Zoo is currently working hard to prepare for resuming operations, but we don’t have an exact date. The Zoo may begin a limited opening starting in Phase 2, determined by Gov Cooper’s phased approach to easing restrictions. Please watch our social media and website for specific plans once they are in place.”

The zoo has been closed since March 17 after Gov. Roy Cooper first enacted the executive order shutting many businesses in North Carolina in response to the coronavirus pandemic.

The zoo closed its grounds and cancelled education and public programs while mandatory staff like animal keepers and facilities operations staff continued looking after animals and maintaining the facility.

During the zoo’s closure, it rolled out virtual visit experiences.

The Virtual Visit program features a wide range of different online education events, art projects, at-home activities and stories from the zoo and the wild that will allow children, teachers, parents and others to experience the zoo and its animals in a new way, the zoo said in a news release.

“A trip to the North Carolina Zoo is always more than just seeing the animals — it’s a chance to learn in a fun environment,” Zoo Curator of Education Beth Folta said. “We’ve now adapted many of our learning experiences to an online format easily accessible to everyone from home.”

The zoo offered the following highlights of the Virtual Visit program:

  • Zoo EDventure Online Series:  every Monday, Wednesday and Friday from 10 a.m. to 10:30 a.m., join us Live on Facebook to get an up-close look at our amazing animals. This is a chance to learn and interact directly with Zoo staff about the theme of the day. All our Zoo EDventures can also be viewed through the Virtual Visit webpage and YouTube.
  • Zoo Classroom is the Zoo’s free distance learning series appropriate for K-12 audiences streamed live every Thursday from 1 to 2 p.m. Each program features a different and fun topic on wildlife and nature. Join us live to ask our educators questions in real time or enjoy our whole series of classes on the website on your own time. Required pre-registration is easy through the Zoo’s Virtual Visit Zoo Classroom page
  • Living with Nature is the Zoo’s distance learning event series currently available to everyone. All of the 2019-2020 events are now available online and have a variety of activities to do before, after, and during the viewing of the recorded program. These are accessible through the Zoo’s website at any time. 
  • Untamed Science: Every Tuesday and Thursday watch an episode of the Zoo’s science education show. Learn about how use science to care for the Zoo’s animals and help protect endangered species in the wild.
  • Ask an Expert: An all new offering only on Instagram. Every Tuesday meet a new Zoo expert. On Wednesday ask them your zoo and wildlife questions. Then on Thursday hear the answers live. Experts from across the Zoo will be featured, including veterinarians, conservation scientists, animal care staff and more.
  • All-new Zoo Blogs: Get in-depth stories and firsthand accounts of what it takes to run a modern zoo. New stories will be coming out every week on how we care for our animals, insights into zoo operations, and what the North Carolina Zoo is doing to save species from extinction.
  • Adventures in EdZOOcation Facebook Group:  Join the Zoo’s EdZOOcation Facebook group and get extra weekly content available only to group members. Every week we will be posting new activities, lessons, videos and more on a variety of topics. Adventures in EdZOOcation programs will include:
    • Zoo Science: Every Tuesday learn a new nature-based science experiment that you can do at home
    • Nature Arts and Crafts: Monday, Wednesday, and Friday get instructions for how to make a different animal-related craft or art project.
    • Wild about Nature: Learn about easy outdoor activities you can do locally & in your own backyard.
    • Just go to the Zoo’s Facebook page and click on “Adventure in EdZOOcation Groups” to join.

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