Zoo Knoxville hoping to reopen by May 18 with COVID-19 safety measures in place

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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — Zoo Knoxville is hoping to reopen with limited capacity and “passive use” in less than two weeks.

Lisa New, president and CEO of Zoo Knoxville announced a target reopening date of May 18 and provided information on ticket purchasing and safety measures that are being put in place amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

“I say that’s a target date because we have lots of things we are doing to get ready to welcome you back,” New said in a video posted to the zoo’s Vimeo account.

Those wanting to take a trip will have to make their ticket purchases in advance either by phone or online. Season pass holders will have to reserve their time as well by going to the Zoo Knoxville website.

New said the zoo will be open for passive use, meaning many of the buildings where animals are housed in confined spaces and playgrounds, will be closed to avoid the possible spread of the coronavirus.

“It means the zoo is to be used much like you would use a greenway or nature trail,” she said. “So the zoo can can be enjoyed as you walk through to see animals in their habitats, but … tight and confined spaces where children play or people gather will be closed.”

Staff will wear masks to keep visitors and the animals safe. Visitors are “highly recommended” to wear a mask as well, but is not required. Zoo Knoxville will have masks for sale. Hand sanitizer will also be available throughout the zoo. Restrooms will be open and sanitized frequently.

“Come out and enjoy the zoo,” New said. “It’s beautiful. It’s in full bloom. All of the animals are here and out and active. We can’t wait to see you.”

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