As Michigan continues to emerge from hibernation, the Detroit Zoological Society is looking forward to welcoming members back to the Detroit Zoo by reservation starting this week with new safety guidelines and protocols in place aimed at helping to protect guests, staff and the animals.
“Our goal is to provide the great Zoo experience you love, while also creating an environment that is safe — not only for us humans but also for the animals who may be susceptible to contracting this virus,” said Ron Kagan, executive director and CEO of the Detroit Zoological Society.
In the first phase of the Detroit Zoo reopening plan, the DZS is inviting members to schedule their visit online. Ticket reservations were open on detroitzoo.org for members since Friday, June 5. General visitor ticket reservations will also open up early next week for visits June 12 onward. Reservations can be made up to two weeks in advance.
In an effort to maintain physical distancing among guests, the DZS will be limiting capacity within the Zoo to 1,000 per day with fewer than 500 inside at any one time over the 125 acres. After the first phase, the DZS will increase the capacity limit to 2,000 per day.
More than 50 (soon 100) hand sanitizing and hand washing stations will be accessible throughout the grounds, and guests will be prompted to maintain physical distance with ground markers, supported by other safety signage along the routes.
Knowledge regarding potential susceptibility of animals to COVID-19 continues to emerge, and DZS protocols are being adapted to include new information as it is available. We are taking proactive measures to limit any potential risk to animals who live at the Detroit Zoo as we continue to properly care for them. The DZS staff is wearing personal protective equipment while caring for certain species. It is now known that lions and tigers in one U.S. zoo have contracted COVID-19 infections. A number of academic studies of this virus and those related suggest other species in zoos may also be susceptible. For that reason, guests may notice a few temporary barriers in areas that might present a risk of transmission of COVID-19 from a guest to an animal. The risk of transmission to animals is also one of the reasons why we are initially asking all visitors, ages 2 years old and up with no medical conditions that prevent them from doing so, to wear a face mask or shield to enter the Zoo.
Most outdoor habitats will be viewable and there will be walkup options for dining. Gift kiosks are also available for purchasing merchandise. Select restrooms will remain available for guests with outside doors propped open and staff maintaining capacity limits and disinfecting regularly. The DZS Clean Team will carry out enhanced cleaning measures throughout the Zoo.
In mid-March, the Detroit Zoological Society made the decision to temporarily close the Detroit Zoo due to the spread of COVID-19 across Michigan. Since then, the Detroit Zoo has lost roughly $2.5 million in revenue each month of the closure. While the Zoo was closed to the public, the animal care staff continued to provide great care to the animals at the Detroit Zoo and Belle Isle Nature Center. The DZS education department also began delivering digital programming to help students and lifelong learners continue to grow in their knowledge of animal welfare, wildlife conservation, environmental sustainability and humane education.