After being closed four months for the pandemic, the Minnesota Zoo will reopen July 24 on a somewhat limited basis with reservations required and COVID-19 restrictions in place for visitors.
People will be able to follow the Apple Valley zoo’s indoor and outdoor trails from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. daily, using a one-way traffic flow and social distancing markers.
All visitors age 3 and up will be required to wear masks, and high-touch areas will receive additional cleaning.
Live programs won’t be offered for now, and play areas including the Splash Pad will remain closed.
“We are excited to be able to safely reopen and invite our guests to once again reconnect with beloved animals and the wonder of nature,” Zoo Director John Frawley said in a statement.
Tickets went on sale Thursday. They must be purchased online at mnzoo.org for a specific date and time, and can be obtained up to 30 days in advance.
Zoo officials took the first steps toward reopening last month when they debuted the Beastly Boulevard, a drive along the Northern Trail.
The zoo, which is a state agency, closed in mid-March in response to the pandemic. About one-third of its funding comes from the state while the balance comes from earned revenue such as gate receipts. In May, the zoo laid off about 50 employees and postponed the hiring of dozens of seasonal workers in an effort to reduce spending.
Two weeks ago the zoo received $6 million in state COVID-19 relief funding to help keep it afloat. Zoo spokesman Zach Nugent said the funding would replace about 40% of an estimated loss of $15 million over the biennium and allow it to continue a “phased approach to welcoming guests back.”
Staff writer Erin Adler contributed to this report.