June 23 date announced, reservations to be required
It won’t be long before you get to meet Twiga, that baby giraffe born at the zoo by the sea.
Twiga, who was born at the Santa Barbara Zoo during the COVID-19 pandemic, and other animals will welcome human visitors when the popular site reopens June 23 to the general public.
The Santa Barbara Zoo announced the reopening date on Friday.
Several safety enhancements and modifications will be in place as the zoo begins its phased approach to safely reopen its doors to the community. The zoo has been closed to guests since mid-March due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Both paid guests and zoo members will be required to make online reservations in advance of their visit, using the zoo’s website, sbzoo.org, to book a timed entry slot.
“The only way you’ll be able to get into the zoo is by getting tickets through the website,” zoo CEO Rich Block told the News-Press.
“There will be limited numbers per every half hour of how many people can come in,” he said. “We’ll start at 9 in the morning. Every half hour we’ll have limits on how many people, and it will all be timed admissions.”
Visits will be limited to 90 minutes at the start of the reserved time. Any guest who exhibits COVID-19 symptoms within 14 days of arrival is advised not to enter the zoo, and initially the zoo will not allow re-entry to the park.
Those who arrive more than 10 minutes before their entry time are asked to wait in their vehicles, and those who miss their arrival time or need to adjust their reservation should contact guest relations.
Ticket prices range from $11.95 to $19.95. Purchases are limited to six tickets and will be offered on a first-come, first-served basis.
The final time slot offered for guests is 3:30 p.m., and the zoo will be open daily from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., with the limited capacity tickets planned through at least July 6.
Parking permits will be valid only for the day of the reservation and the parking lot may only be used during a visit. Due to the size and capacity of the lot, recreational vehicles and oversized vehicles are not allowed, officials said.
The zoo is requesting visitors implement social distancing practices by parking in every other spot when possible, and to keep a distance of six feet from other guests when exiting their vehicle. Parking ticket prices are $11.
Prior to the official reopening, the zoo will hold a soft opening for its members June 20 to 22, which will also require an online reservation.
“The soft opening with zoo members will help zoo staff observe high-traffic areas, traffic patterns and make adjustments as needed,” said Jennifer Zacharias, zoo spokeswoman.
In addition to limiting daily attendance and requiring timed tickets, the zoo has also implemented several other safety protocols.
Some of the high-touch areas, such as the zoo’s Eeeww! exhibit of bugs, lizards, toads, spiders and snakes, will be closed.
Other exhibit closures include the giraffe feeding deck, Wings of Asia, Tropical Aviary, Rattlesnake Canyon, Discovery Pavilion, the barnyard and the Kallman Children’s Play Area.
All keeper talks and stage shows are also unavailable until further notice. Many of the zoo favorites will continue to be available for viewing, including the Asian small-clawed otters, snow leopard, and Masai giraffes, featuring the baby giraffe, Twiga, who was born during the closure.
One-way pedestrian traffic will be enforced upon entry, and all staff will be required to wear face masks. Visitors over the age of 13 are also being asked to wear a face covering or mask, as recommended by the Santa Barbara County Public Health Department and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The zoo is increasing its sanitation procedures, adding more hand sanitizer stations and including social distance reminders around the zoo. To limit contact during transaction, the zoo will only be accepting credit or debit cards during transactions, and the food options will be limited, according to the zoo’s website.
Stroller and wheelchair rentals will be available at the gift shot in the courtyard.
The zoo is also still accepting registrations for the summer zoo camp, held from June 22 to Aug. 14 for children ages 3 to 12.
For more information on the camps being offered, visit www.sbzoo.org/learn/zoo-camp.