CHICAGO (WBBM NEWSRADIO) -- The Chicago Zoological Society announced Monday its phased reopening plan for Brookfield Zoo, after the zoo was temporarily closed to guests since March 19 to help prevent the spread of COVID-19.
Brookfield zoo will reopen to the general public starting July 8. Those who have a membership to Brookfield Zoo will be able to return to the zoo's outdoor areas starting July 1.
“Brookfield Zoo has been closed for nearly four months and we are eagerly looking forward to welcoming guests back to reconnect with animals and nature,” said Stuart Strahl, president and CEO of CZS, in a statement. “We have been following guidelines set forth by local, state, and federal government and health agencies to ensure the well-being of our zoo guests, staff, volunteers, and the animals.”
Brookfield Zoo will require guests to make a reservation to visit to limit guest capacity and ensure safe, social distancing. Reservation times will be available in 20-minute increments. All admission and parking tickets must be secured by both members and guests prior to arriving.
Reservations for time-ticketing will be available soon at CZS.org. No tickets will be sold on site. All tickets are non-refundable and no rain checks will made.
According to CZS, a number of enhanced operational protocols and procedures have been set in place, and it is highly recommended for guests to read through them at CZS.org/KnowBeforeYouGo prior to visiting Brookfield Zoo.
According to Brookfield Zoo, face coverings are required for guests age 2 and over. Additional safety measures include signage and visual markers will also be located throughout the zoo to remind guests to maintain adequate social distancing; the sanitation of high-touch areas and restrooms with hospital-grade cleaners; and hand-sanitizing stations located throughout the 216-acre zoo.
The zoo will not be distributing its paper map at the gates. Instead, guests can download it from the zoo’s website or use a phone to take a photo of the large map that will be displayed at both the north and south entrances.
Additional operational protocols include all staff having their temperatures checked at the start of each work day, wearing face coverings, and wearing gloves if handling food or product.
The zoo will also be instituting a cashless environment, to minimize person-to-person contact. Only credit card transactions will be accepted at outdoor food and beverage carts and merchandise kiosks.
According to Brookfield Zoo, at this time, all indoor spaces, including animal buildings, restaurants, and gift shops, are temporarily closed. Seasonal food stands and outdoor souvenir carts will be open throughout the zoo. Other areas temporarily closed include play areas, splash pads, water misters, drinking fountains, The Carousel, Motor Safari tram rides, and Butterflies! (seasonal exhibit).
The goat yard at Hamill Family Play Zoo will also be closed, but guests will still be able to feed the goats from a designated area.
In addition to seeing animals, guests can go back in time—way back to a prehistoric period.
Brookfield Zoo also announced Monday the launch of a temporary exhibit—Dinos Everywhere! featuring more than 40 life-like, earth-shaking animatronic dinosaurs.
Zoogoers will have the chance to explore outdoor areas and embark on a safari in search of all the dinosaurs, including the Argentinosaurus. This massive dinosaur—measuring more than 100 feet in length and standing three-stories tall—can’t be missed on the zoo’s West Mall.
The interactive exhibit will allow dino lovers of all ages to put their dinosaur knowledge to the test! According to the zoo, guests can answer dino-related trivia questions for an opportunity to win a prize. There are plenty of opportunities to snap selfies alongside your favorite prehistoric behemoth. Dinos Everywhere! was created by “Jurassic Park” advisor, Don Lessum and is on loan from Dino Don, Inc. and The Wildlife Conservation Society.
According to CZS, limiting guests to only outdoor areas is the first phase of Brookfield Zoo’s reopening plan. Staff is continuously monitoring local, state, and federal guidelines, including appropriate social distancing and group size, to determine when to increase attendance and allow guests access to indoor animal buildings, as well as restaurants and gift shops at reduced capacities.
Admission to Brookfield Zoo, which includes access to Dinos Everywhere!, is $24.95 for adults, $17.95 for children ages 3-11 and $19.95 for seniors 65 and over. Parking is $15.