By Darla Shelden
City Sentinel Newspaper
OKLAHOMA CITY, OK – Since being temporarily closed for almost two months to help prevent the spread of the coronavirus, COVID-19, the Oklahoma City Zoo and Botanical Garden has reopened offering an all-outdoor experience.
During the Outdoor Safari Walk guests will follow a one-way, 2-mile trail through almost all of the Zoo to see many of their favorite animals and wildlife habitats including Asian elephants, bison, grizzly and black bears, Indian rhinos, Sumatran tigers, Western lowland gorillas, African lions and more.
The OKC Zoo is now taking online reservations for limited guests, becoming one of the first AZA-accredited Zoos in the nation to reopen.
Timed tickets that can be scanned (printed or on phone) at a safe distance for entry into the Zoo will be issued to guests when they make their online reservation, required for all guests and ZOOfriends members wanting to experience the Outdoor Safari Walk.
For the health and safety of Zoo guests, team members and animals, and to ensure adequate social distancing between guests, the Zoo will limit the number of guests allowed to visit per day during the Outdoor Safari Walk.
From the webpage, guests can pick the day and time they would like to visit and reserve a maximum of seven tickets. Attendance is staggered by 30-minute increments to limit the total number of guests in the Zoo at one time.
Guests must arrive at their reserved time slot to ensure capacity is not exceeded. The final time slot is 3:30 p.m. each day.
Once reserved, guests will receive an electronic ticket confirmation that can be scanned (printed or on phone) at a safe distance for entry into the Zoo.
“We are extremely grateful to the community at large, our members, guests and fans for their continued support and patience during our unexpected closure,” said Dwight Lawson, OKC Zoo’s executive director and CEO.
“Our entire Zoo team is thrilled to welcome our fans back to the park and provide this safe, memorable opportunity for them to reconnect with the Zoo’s animals, botanical collections and wildlife habitats.”
The Zoo will have visual reminders and staff members placed along the pathway to ensure guests are maintaining a safe social distance.
All Zoo staff members will be required to wear face masks and gloves, while working. Zoo staff will also have their temperature checked each morning before beginning work.
Guests are strongly encouraged to wear masks on the Outdoor Safari Walk. Strollers, wheelchairs and ECVs are welcome on the Safari Walk pathway.
Hand sanitizer stations will be positioned at the Zoo’s entry, exit, all restrooms and concessions. Zoo staff will be continuously cleaning all high-touch surfaces like windows, vending machines, tables, and chairs.
Regular Zoo admission fees apply for the Outdoor Safari Walk: $12 for adults and $9 for children ages 3-11 and seniors ages 65 and over. Children two and under are admitted free and do not require tickets for admission.
All Zoo rides, animal feedings, playgrounds, water fountains, misters and indoor animal areas such as the Herpetarium, Great EscApe building, Noble Aquatic Center and Joan Kirkpatrick Animal Hospital will be closed.
Multiple bathroom locations will be open along the Outdoor Safari Walk path.
Concessions will be available at Best of Oklahoma (formerly Big Rivers Café) and the new Big Rock BBQ Café. Guests can also bring their own food and non-alcoholic beverages into the Zoo.
Tickets for entry to the Outdoor Safari Walk will be available from 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. daily at okczoo.org/tickets.
Reservations may be canceled or refunded up to the reservation time but not after. If a guest feels sick before their reservation, they are asked not to visit the Zoo. No military discounts can be offered at this time.
Visit okczoo.org/tickets to make an online reservation, or call 405-424-3344.
ZOOfriends members can book reservations online or call 405-425-0618.
For more information, visit okczoo.org/safari.