We have REALLY missed going to the zoo!
We love our spur of the moment zoo trips, and have been missing them something fierce! Our zoo, Riverbanks Zoo and Gardens, has been closed from March 13th to May 22nd. That’s a long time! I know a lot of zoos are still closed so I thought I would share the measures our zoo has taken to make sure everyone stays safe and distanced.
To learn more about the zoo in general and not just post quarantine zoo, see this post.
On the 22nd of May, Riverbanks opened for members only, but only with reservations. The time slots you could reserve were set up in 30 minute increments, with no time limit as to how long you can stay once you get there. Ideally if you want to go to the zoo when there aren’t many people, you want to get there right when it opens (9am) and stay for only an hour or two.
We reserved the 9:30 time slot and stayed for 3 hours. By 12:30 there were a good bit of people there! For each booking, they only allow a certain number (around 160) to reserve tickets. Each family can only reserve 8 tickets, per the website.
I posted a lot of stories on my Instagram the day of our zoo trip, so if you would like the short version of things, check out my “Riverbanks” highlight on my Instagram! This post is a more permanent “long version”.
As of right now, there are limited attractions open. Here’s a look at some of the closures:
Alternatively, some places that have opened are the bird house and the reptile house. Each one is limiting the number of guests allowed inside at a time. There’s a person outside counting and sanitizing and each location has hand sanitizer available outside.
We didn’t go in the bird house, but the reptile house/aquarium apparently has a capacity of 400 people, but they are only allowing 50 people in at a time. That should give you a good idea of how empty it was! When we went in we didn’t wait in line, but there were about 5 families waiting when we came out (this was around noon).
We took a ride on the carousel and as people got off I noticed a girl going in to wipe down the animals. I thought, there is no way she can remember which ones people sat on! Does she clean them all? Will this take forever?
I quickly found out! The lights on the top of the carousel alternate green/white. When you enter, the employee there will tell you which color row to pick, and to only choose a row with no one on it. Our color was green! There were no people on the row in front of us or behind us. Once our ride was over, all of our seats got sanitized. I thought it was a really cool way that they did things!
The gardens are open but the tram is not running right now, so I would advise you either park at the garden and do that in a day, or be prepared for a hike. I didn’t go there yet so I will have to come back and edit this post once I visit again to see what all is open on the garden side.
The kids got to pick a toy each and the employees encourage that they don’t touch before they choose a toy. One guy mentioned it but when we were picking a stuffed animal it wasn’t brought up at all…thus the photo. They are selling adult and child face masks in case you arrive unprepared and want to take extra precautions. I’m not sure how much they cost though as I didn’t see any price. I’d just play it safe and bring your own!
They are only offering virtual maps at this time. There are also signs up everywhere that is considered a “high touch area” so you can be aware and, you know, not touch it. For example, the glass on the otter exhibit.
There are plenty of hand sanitizer and hand washing stations throughout the zoo, and any water fountains have been blocked off (that I saw). Make sure you bring your water bottles! They will fill them up for you in any restaurant or food kiosk if you ask.
The farm was open as well as the goat petting area, but they ask that you wash your hands both before AND after petting the goats. The cow that you can milk was missing it’s udders so I don’t know if that is coming back anytime soon. You also can no longer enter the bigger chicken coop to collect eggs.
The train ride is still open, though we didn’t ride it so I don’t know what their procedure is yet. You’re also still able to feed the giraffes. They have the deck separated in two and are only allowing two families at a time into the sections on the deck. It’s kind of nice though, you don’t have to fight to get a photo while you feed the giraffes. Again, plenty of hand sanitizer here!
There was someone cleaning the bathrooms when I went in at the farm, so I feel like they probably clean them a lot more frequently than they used to.
Are you looking forward to going to the zoo soon? Or are you happy to wait a few more weeks/months? It was honestly so good for all of us. Physically and mentally and just all around. I hope our little excursion helped if you were unsure or nervous in any way!