Pandemic and Heat Wave Causes Zoo to Alter Operations
The Zoo has seen many visitors since its reopening in late June, however attendance numbers have started to decrease as COVID cases and temperatures increase in Hampton Roads. The Zoo will adapt new operating procedures Saturday, August 1, 2020.
“We can ensure you the safety of our staff, animals and guests are our number one priority,” said Greg Bockheim, Executive Director of the Virginia Zoo. “As we learn more about the virus, watch local trends and deal with the circumstances Mother Nature gives us, we decided to make these proactive changes to our daily operations,” Bockheim added.
During its second stage, the Zoo is adhering to these guidelines:
- The Zoo will still limit capacity – about 30 percent of its normal visitorship. All tickets must be purchased and reserved in advance for a specific time slot – this even applies to Zoo members. Reservations are available beginning at 10 am with the last reservation at 2 pm.
- The Zoo will return to its original days of operation, opening to the public seven days a week. However, the new hours are 10 am to 4 pm. This allows for an added hour of deep cleaning without the public on grounds, in addition to the increased sanitizing measures the Zoo has already implemented. Member Mornings are happening through September 6, 2020 and allow Zoo Members an early 9 am entry to the Zoo on Saturdays and Sundays. Reservations are still required.
- To help ensure the safety of all guests, and to comply with all state and local regulations, all Zoo staff and volunteers continue to wear masks while on grounds. Per mandated regulations in Virginia, all visitors ages 5 and up are required to wear a mask upon entry into the Zoo and indoors. When social distancing cannot be maintained on Zoo grounds and when within 6 feet of those from a different group, visitors are required to wear a face mask or face shield to protect all visitors, staff and volunteers.
- Newly opened amenities with limited capacity include: Gift Shop, Africa Restaurant and the Zoo Train when weather permits. The Membership Office will soon offer a walk-up window to purchase memberships, allow pickup of cards and offer other assistance.
- Other closures or cancellations: The World of Reptiles, ZooFarm, Enrichment Playground and Water Plaza are all still closed. Keeper Chats, ZooLive! Stage presentations and other animal encounters are postponed until further notice. Senior Wednesdays have been cancelled.
- Food and beverages can be purchased throughout the Zoo. Strollers and wheelchairs will also be available for rent on a first-come, first-serve basis. Run Wild! Nature Discovery Zone is open.