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  1. Arts & Entertainment

ZooTampa plans to reopen June 1 with limited capacity

A 17-page plan has been approved that allows for distancing, thermal monitoring stations and only 50 percent capacity.

ZooTampa at Lowry Park announced Monday that it has received approval to reopen on June 1 with modified operations.

A 17-page plan that was submitted to county officials on Friday calls for a reopening plan that would limit the number of guests to 50 percent of capacity and limit indoor venues there to 25 percent capacity. Six feet or more of social distancing space will be required and enforced, a zoo news release said.

“We’ve all felt the anxiety and stress of the pandemic on people, including children,” said a statement released from 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.”

Roaring Springs is a fairly new water raft ride area and food stand at ZooTampa at Lowry Park. A plan to reopen June 1 would limit the park's capacity to 50 percent and enforce social distancing measures. [ZOOTAMPA | Handout]

Other modifications include:

  • Adding safety and thermal monitoring stations at our single point of entry and hiring on-premise EMTs.
  • Providing PPE to employees and offering disposable masks to any guest free of charge.
  • Enforcing constraints to prevent the congregation of any group of more than 10 people.
  • Restricting close contact in the park through clear and enforced physical distancing guidelines .
  • Communicating new safety protocols with mandated training for every zoo employee.
  • Zoo School, the on-site Childhood Education Center, will follow the Department of Children & Family and Hillsborough County childcare licensing guidelines with an anticipated opening of mid-June.
  • Shift the start of Zoo Camp to start the week of June 22.

“We recognize that in everything we do, the well-being of our employees, volunteers, supporters, members, guests, and animals continues to be our foremost priority,” Couceiro’s statement said. “As we look towards reopening in the near future, we reaffirm our commitment to the mission of immersing guests into unforgettable animal experiences beyond the ordinary that help foster connections with nature, wildlife and each other."

ZooTampa at Lowry Park would the first local attraction to announce a clear target for reopening. The zoo, which cares for more than 1,100 animals, is 1101 W Sligh Ave. in Tampa.

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