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Tampa Bay and Sarasota's Leading Local News: Weather, Traffic, Sports and more | Tampa Bay and Sarasota, FL | WTSP.com

ZooTampa opens May 29: Here's what to expect

Guests won't be required to wear a mask, but they're recommended to.
Credit: WTSP
ZooTampa houses koalas from Australia

TAMPA, Fla. — Zoo Tampa at Lowry Park said it's just about ready to welcome back guests of all ages.

The zoo announced it received approval from city and county leaders to reopen to the public on Friday, May 29. Part of that approval process included developing a plan to operate the zoo safely during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Leaders believe the new guidelines "ensure public safety" and help put the public at ease by reopening the business and outdoor space.

"We’ve all felt the anxiety and stress of the pandemic on people, including children.” said Joe Couceiro, president and CEO of ZooTampa. "Outdoor experiences and connecting with nature and wildlife are healing and bring comfort to people. 

"The Zoo can provide restorative family experiences that are within the recommended guidelines for controlling the spread of COVID-19."

The plan includes new guest protocols and these key changes:

  • Limiting the number of guests to 50 percent of zoo capacity
  • Enforcing 6 feet or more of social distancing
  • Restricting the zoo's indoor venues to 50 percent capacity and emphasizing outdoor seating with staff supervision
  • Adding safety and thermal monitoring stations at the entrance
  • Hiring on-site EMTs
  • Providing personal protective equipment to employees and offering disposable masks to guests for free
  • Communicating and training employees on new safety protocols
  • Shifting the start of Zoo Camp to the week of June 22

While the zoo has been closed for weeks because of the coronavirus pandemic, animal care staff have still been there looking after the 1,100 animals who live at the zoo.

RELATED: 'It’s not business as usual, it’s a new beginning': ZooTampa CEO explains plan to reopen

RELATED: Penguins roam free through ZooTampa during COVID-19 closure

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