Franklin Park Zoo in Boston and Stone Zoo in Stoneham will reopen to the general public in June but with new health and safety measures in place, Zoo New England announced Tuesday. The zoos closed in March due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The zoos will reopen June 4. Zoo members, however, can visit sooner during “member appreciation days” beginning this week. Franklin Park Zoo members can visit May 28 to June 3, and Stone Zoo members can visit May 30 to June 3.
The zoos will reopen in phases. During the first phase, indoor buildings, playgrounds, and play structures will remain closed, and strollers and wheelchairs will not be available for rental. Bathrooms will be available, but their capacities will be limited.
Among the animals guests can visit at Franklin Park Zoo during phase one of the opening are lions, tigers, giraffes, red kangaroos, emus, prairie dogs, red pandas, zebras, ostrich, warthogs, and more. At Stone Zoo, guests can visit black bears, snow leopards, arctic fox, reindeer, flamingos, bush dogs, Mexican gray wolves, white-cheeked gibbons, and more.
“Care is at the heart of everything we do here at Zoo New England, and our team has been spending a lot of time over the past many weeks planning for how to re-open as safely as possible to protect the health and wellbeing of our visitors, staff and animals,” said John Linehan, president and CEO of Zoo New England, in a press release. “Both Franklin Park and Stone Zoo offer expansive outdoor spaces with plenty of room for social distancing while learning about many of the incredible species that call our Zoos home. While all of our animals have continued to receive excellent care during the closure, both our staff and animals have missed our guests, and we are all very excited to open our gates to visitors once again with new protocols in place.”
All zoo visitors must buy their tickets online for a designated time slot prior to visiting. Guests should arrive no more than five minutes before their assigned time, group size is limited to 10 people or less, and re-entry is not allowed.
Once on the grounds, guests must wear face coverings and follow marked one-way paths. Children under the age of two are not required to wear face coverings, according to the Zoo New England website. Guests must remain six feet from other visitors and follow the zoo’s social-distancing graphics on the ground.
Franklin Park Zoo will offer food via walk-up window service from its Giddy Up Grill, but there will be no indoor seating, outdoor seating will be limited, and the menu will be limited to grab-and-go items, according to the Zoo New England website. Guests can bring their own food — but no coolers — and vending machines will not be available.
Zoo staff will follow a “strict” cleaning schedule for high-contact surfaces and restrooms, according to Zoo New England. Staff members have completed COVID-19 training, are required to wear face coverings, and receive daily temperature checks.
Online tickets for the general public will be available beginning June 1 at zoonewengland.org.