The bunting was out as zoos celebrated being back in business. ZSL London Zoo welcomed 2,000 people a day this week, the number they are allowing to allow social distancing. Visitors were asked to stay two metres apart but, hopefully, very soon that may be reduced to one metre. The Government are expected to change the distance rule next week.
The zoo had been closed for three months – the first time since WW2 – because of Covid-19. Visitors who bought one of the 2,000 sold-out tickets to Monday’s reopening formed a socially-distanced queue to enter the 36-acre park, before safely following one of three carefully mapped out nature routes laid out across the site.
Standing two metres apart, families enjoyed visiting popular zoo residents, including critically-endangered Western lowland gorillas Mjukuu, Effie, Gernot and Alika, Sumatran tiger Asim and Asiatic lions Heidi, Indi, Rubi and Bhanu – alongside the Humboldt penguin colony at Penguin Beach.
Zookeeper Daniel Simmonds said: “It’s been a really surreal, and quite anxious, time at the zoo without visitors on site, but we are all so excited that our efforts have paid off and we can finally welcome them back – in fact, the demand for tickets was so high on the day they went on sale that our website had a bit of a wobble, but it’s all fixed now!”
The zoo is limiting visitors to 2,000 people per day, with pre-booked tickets only. A one-way system is in place, with three prescribed routes ensuring guests remain socially-distanced, while getting to explore the whole zoo. Catering outlets are takeaway only, and all payments are contactless. Some indoor exhibits, including the Reptile House and BUGS House remain closed for now.
Kathryn England, Chief Operating Officer for ZSL London Zoo, added; “While the reopening news is certainly worthy of a big celebration, it’s not the end of our fundraising efforts yet. The increased safety measures mean London Zoo will be limited to just 2,000 visitors a day – well below the numbers needed to recoup the charity’s lost income, so we really hope that we’ll continue to receive the amazing support from the public we’ve seen so far.”