Cincinnati Zoo details reopening plan with reservations, timed entry, touchless experience

Cincinnati Zoo director discusses reopening plans

CINCINNATI (FOX19) - Going to the Cincinnati Zoo in the near future will involve tickets reserved in advance, timed entry, capacity limits and a touchless, outdoor experience.

That’s according to Cincinnati Zoo Director Thane Maynard, who unveiled the zoo’s phased reopening plan during a Friday media briefing. The briefing is attached in full above.

Maynard described phase one of the reopening plan as turning the zoo into “an outdoor park people can walk through."

He explained: “Indoor buildings will be closed, as will the train and carousel. Visitors will be able to enjoy the beauty of the botanical garden and see lions, giraffes, zebras, cheetahs, rhinos, Fiona and many other animals in their outdoor habitats.

"Just being outside in the zoo’s natural setting offers mental and physical health benefits.”

Maynard said the smaller crowds — 25 percent capacity at first — will create a different, possibly improved experience for zoo-goers: “It’s more zoo for you."

He continued: “The zoo brings joy to so many people. It’s a place to connect with nature, bond with family, learn something new, exercise, and check in on animals that many know by name.”

The zoo hopes to reopen in June but has not yet received a firm reopening date from Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine, Maynard said.

Part of the delay, he explained, stems from state officials lumping Ohio’s zoos in with large, ticketed tourism events like OSU football games or big concerts, which have problems the zoo, a “family venue,” does not have.

“Cincinnati is a zoo town,” Maynard said, and it is “ready to reopen.”

Here are the details of the zoo’s reopening plan once it is given the green light from Columbus:

  • The first week following its reopening will be members-only
  • Tickets to the zoo must be reserved in advance on the zoo’s website
  • Tickets will be available for “pulsed entry” at every half-hour interval to avoid large crowds
  • The zoo expects visitors to spend around two hours inside the zoo
  • Maximum capacity will start at around 2,000 people per day or 25 percent capacity (the zoo traditionally gets 10,000 visitors per day Memorial Day weekend)
  • All staff will wear masks
  • Visitors are encouraged to wear masks
  • Parking will be limited to the south lot at Erkenbrecher and Lewis Avenues, and visitors will walk to the pedestrian entrance on Erkenbrecher
  • The zoo will be furnished with hand-sanitizing machines, hand-washing options and ground markers to remind visitors about social distancing
  • Some bathrooms will be open
  • Outdoor animal exhibits will be open
  • Indoor exhibits, such as manatees, birds, insects and reptiles, will be closed to minimize touch points in confined spaces
  • Grab-and-go dining options will be available from the zoo’s new beer garden and food trucks with outdoor seating
  • The carousel, train and indoor restaurant will be unavailable to start
  • Wheelchairs and strollers will be unavailable to start

More information on the zoo’s reopening plan can be found at the zoo’s website.

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