Milwaukee County Zoo to partially reopen as 'outdoor experience' on June 13

MILWAUKEE (CBS 58) -- The Milwaukee County Zoo will open as an "outdoor experience" to visitors on Saturday, June 13. 

Milwaukee County Executive David Crowley made the announcement. 

“The Zoo is one of the Milwaukee County’s finest assets, and an attraction that has been sorely missed by visitors during the current health emergency,” said County Executive Crowley. “And on June 13, we’ll be excited to welcome them back. The ‘outdoor only’ experience is Phase I of the reopening transition for the Zoo.”

The Milwaukee County Zoo was temporarily closed March 15 to help mitigate the spread of COVID-19 and will reopen to the public with only the outdoor habitats open, and a limited daily capacity for visitors and Zoo Pass holders.

With the staff, visitors and animals’ safety as the priority, and to adhere to physical distancing guidelines, Zoo admission and parking will be available for all visitors online only. Visitors will enjoy an “outdoor-only” experience during this first phase of the reopening plan.

“We know our visitors and Zoological Society members have been patiently waiting, and anxious for the Zoo to reopen,” said Zoo Director Chuck Wikenhauser. “We’ve put together this first phase as a careful and thoughtful plan for a limited reopening, with everyone’s safety as the top priority. Visitors can see the animals outside, walk the 190-acre grounds and enjoy favorite attractions like the train, carousel and the Dinosaur exhibit.”

“We are grateful we can welcome back our loyal fans, supporters and members to the Zoo, just in time for the summer season and warmer weather.”

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

Physical distancing among all Zoo staff and visitors is critical during Phase I of reopening. The Zoo will have visual signage and staff members in place to remind visitors to maintain a 6-foot physical distance along all pathways, and in ride queue lines, boarding and seating. Visitor safety is paramount, and here’s how things are changing:

Ticket Reservations:

• Visit 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 6 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. If a visitor has forgotten a mask, a paper one will be supplied. 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, Playgrounds 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

• All indoor animal buildings will be closed

• Concessions will be available, with limited menu items, at: West End Snacks, Coffee Shop and The Coop Food Truck; 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, 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 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

Though the types of species visitors may see could change daily, featured animals include elephants, giraffe, zebra, tigers, grizzly bears, camels, flamingos and many more.

During this first phase, the Zoo is open from 10 3 p.m. daily; timed entry for visitors will be available from 10 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.

For more information, CLICK HERE. 

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