Central Florida Zoo & Botanical Gardens to Reopen to the Public on Wednesday, May 13
As part of Florida’s Phase 1 reopening of the state, following federal and local guidelines, the Central Florida Zoo will reopen to the public on Wednesday, May 13, 2020, at 10 AM. Modified Zoo operations are in place until further notice to ensure the safety of visitors, annual pass holders, staff, and animals. Modifications will include limiting in-park attendance to 50% of outdoor capacity, required online timed ticketing for all guests, one-way pathways, additional barriers around certain animal habitats, and closure of high touch point areas and indoor venues. Every guest entering the Zoo will be strongly encouraged to wear a mask.
“The Zoo has been a great destination for the community for many years, and we’re thrilled to be able to reopen following all state, local, CDC, and AZA (Association of Zoos and Aquariums) guidelines,” said Dino Ferri, CEO. “We want to be an oasis for people to take a break from the stress of the past few months and let them enjoy nature and our animals.”
Reopening & Modified Operations Plan
The Central Florida Zoo & Botanical Gardens has developed and enacted a Reopening and Modified Operations Plan. The plan was presented to Seminole County Emergency Management officials on Thursday, May 6. The Zoo can resume modified operations with guidance from Seminole County officials.
- Reduced operating hours to allow for additional cleaning and sanitation.
- Online timed tickets required for all guests, to ensure safe and comfortable capacity and limited contact admissions.
- A six-foot minimum of physical distancing required, monitored, and enforced throughout the property.
- Based on current State guidelines, the Central Florida Zoo’s limited indoor venues will not reopen, including the Insect Zoo, Zoofari Outpost Gift Shop, Bear House, and Herpetarium.
- Closed high touchpoints in the Zoo include the Wharton-Smith Tropical Splash Ground, the KaBoom! Playground, and the Spectrum News13 Children’s Garden
- In-park feedings and encounters suspended until further notice.
- Activities that would encourage the congregation of any group of more than 10 people, such as chats and shows, will not be offered.
- Seminole Aerial Adventures will not be operating at this time.
- Sonny’s BBQ will operate from 10:30 AM to 3 PM.
- Enhanced cleaning protocols throughout the day.
- Additional training and PPE required for all Zoo employees.
Modifications Made During the Zoo Closure
Just prior to the Zoo’s closure on March 14th, additional antibacterial hand sanitizer dispensers were placed at key exit and entry points throughout the Zoo, thanks to a partnership with Orlando Health. Upon reopening to the public, additional signage to promote handwashing and best hygiene practices will be posted throughout the park.
During the Zoo’s eight-week closure, animal and horticulture care teams, veterinary staff, and essential facilities members all remained on grounds to provide care for our 350 animals and maintain our 116-acre property. Educational programming shifted to digital platforms and included videos of the animals, some behind-the-scenes access with the keepers, as well as crafts and activities.
“It has been amazing to see the community come together to support the Zoo during our closure,” added Ferri. “There are no words to express how thankful we are to each and every person who interacted with us on social media, sent messages of support, and contributed to our Emergency Operating Fund. We can’t wait to open our gates and see the park filled with people again.”
Visiting Central Florida Zoo
The Zoo will open an hour early on Tuesdays from 9 AM to 10 AM to accommodate our vulnerable guests. Purchase tickets online, in advance through the Zoo’s website.
For information about the Zoo’s reopening and to purchase required timed tickets, please visit www.centralfloridazoo.org/reopening.
PLEASE NOTE: The City of Sanford is continuing construction on West Seminole Boulevard at the Zoo’s entrance. The Zoo is reopening with modified operations. It will be accessible to guests from eastbound West Seminole Boulevard from Monroe Road, eastbound 17-92, or also Interstate 4. Guests will not be able to access the Zoo from westbound West Seminole Boulevard. While visiting, be mindful of possible detours and changes in traffic patterns. Construction will continue in the area near the Zoo’s entrance.
Central Florida Zoo & Botanical Gardens is home to over 350 animals in Sanford, Florida. As a not-for-profit organization, it is also a leader in conservation. They provide experiences that excite and inspire actions on behalf of wildlife. More information is available at www.centralfloridazoo.org.
Want to learn even more about the Central Florida Zoo? Check it out here!
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