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Milwaukee County Zoo to open some animal buildings starting this weekend

MILWAUKEE (CBS 58) -- The Milwaukee County Zoo will reopen some animal buildings, along with concessions and merchandise outlets with 50 percent capacity beginning Saturday, July 18.

On June 13, the Zoo formally announced its reopening with only the outdoors habitats open, and a limited daily capacity for visitors and Zoo Pass holders.

“The decision to transition to reopen parts of the Milwaukee County Zoo’s indoor spaces has involved much careful thought, planning, and review, with staff, visitors and animals’ safety as the first priority,” said Milwaukee County Executive David Crowley. “After doing the careful work to ensure a safe environment for all, we’re confident that the precautions taken will help keep the public safe while enjoying all that the County Zoo has to offer. Physical distancing, face masks for mitigating the virus’ spread, and advanced online reservations will remain in place to align with federal and state guidance.”

In addition to the outdoor grounds and some concessions outlets which are currently open, the transition allows for additional areas of the park to be open and welcoming visitors.

The following animal buildings will open starting July 18 with 50-percent capacity:

-Aquatic & Reptile Center

-Herb & Nada Mahler Family Aviary

-Dairy Barn in the Northwestern Mutual Family Farm

-Elephant Care Center

-Apes of Africa

These buildings allow for one-way visitor traffic and feature designated entrance and exit doors. Staff will monitor the number of visitors in the buildings at any one time, to ensure physical distancing guidelines can be followed. Buildings will be equipped with hand sanitizer stations.

These additional concessions outlets will open on July 18:

-Wild Burger

-Leini Lodge

-Bear Garden

-Dairy Express

Additional merchandise kiosks opening include:

-Lakeview Cart

-Dino Store at the “Dinosaurs Unearthed” exhibit

In addition to the Train, Carousel and Sky Glider, the Playground in the Family Farm will also open July 18. Hand sanitizer stations will be available in these attraction areas also.

Online reservations are required for all visitors and Zoo Pass holders. Timed, electronic admission tickets that can be scanned at a safe distance, will continue to be issued to visitors after making their online reservations. If a visitor feels sick before their reservation, we ask that they not visit the Zoo.

Visual signage and staff members will remind visitors to maintain a 6-foot physical distance along all pathways, in animal buildings and in ride queue lines, boarding and seating.

Ticket Reservations:

-Visit www.milwaukeezoo.org to make your reservation

-A limited number of visitors/Zoo Pass holders can visit per day, to adhere to physical distancing

-Online reservations are required for all visitors and members

-From the webpage, choose the date and time you’d like to visit and reserve up to 8 tickets

-Once reserved, you’ll receive an email ticket confirmation that can be scanned (printed or on a phone) from a distance or in a touchless manner upon admittance

-Regular Zoo admission rates apply; car parking is $12

-The Zoo cannot accommodate visitors without an online reservation

-Visitors must arrive at their reservation entry time to ensure a safe capacity is not exceeded; the final timed entry each day is 1:30 p.m. No entry time after this will be allowed.

Zoo Guidelines:

-All visitors are required to wear masks. When arriving, visitors and their party will be asked if everyone has a mask. A limited quantity of masks is available for purchase at the Gift Shop Marketplace, just past the U.S. Bank Gathering Place.

-Visitors will not have access to high-touch areas of the Zoo: Goat Yard, Sky Adventure Zip Line/Ropes Courses, Pony Rides, and areas where larger numbers of visitors could congregate: Giraffe Feedings, Animal in Action Talks and Animal Feedings

-A limited number of restrooms will be open; with doors permanently propped open

-Water fountains will be closed; the water bottle refill station in the Gathering Place will be open

-Concessions will be available, with limited menu items, at: West End Snacks, Coffee Shop, The Coop Food Truck, Wild Burger, Leini Lodge, The Bear Garden and Dairy Express; visitors can bring in food and non-alcoholic beverages. No glass bottles.

-Visitors can bring in strollers, wheelchairs and electric scooters

What the Zoo is Doing to Keep Visitors Safe:

-A single point of entry will be designated through which all visitors are admitted

-Hand sanitizer stations will be located throughout the Zoo, including entry and exit areas, the open animal buildings, playgrounds, restrooms and concession kiosks

-We are enhancing our already-stringent cleaning protocols, and continuously cleaning and sanitizing all high-touch surfaces like ride seats and armrests, tables, chairs, railings and more

-Because the Zoo is opened limited hours, this allows for extensive commercial-grade pressure washers to clean larger surface areas with a disinfectant additive

-Zoo visitors (ages 3+) will be required to wear masks. Masks can be purchased through the Zoo’s online Gift Shop at http://www.milwaukeezoo.org or at the Zoo’s outdoor Gift Shop Marketplace just past the U.S. Bank Gathering Place

-All Zoo staff members working directly with the public will be required to wear masks

Zoo hours will remain the same -- from 10 a.m.to 3 p.m. daily; timed entry for visitors will be available from 10 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. at http://www.milwaukeezoo.org .

The Zoo is dedicated to the well-being and safety of its patrons, staff and animals, and will continue to follow the required guidelines related to COVID-19. Changes to Zoo operations and protocols may occur at any time. Current guidelines are temporary and when appropriate, the Zoo will transition to reopening additional areas open to visitors.

Before visiting, check the Zoo’s website at http://www.milwaukeezoo.org for a detailed list of Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) related to reopening.

For further questions, please contact the Zoo’s Marketing and Communications Department at 414.256.5466 or visit the Zoo’s website.

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