NORFOLK, Va. - The Virginia Zoo is back open to the public!
The zoo shut down temporarily in March due to the coronavirus pandemic, but after three member preview days, it's opening to all visitors on Thursday.
Visitors will notice some changes, however, starting with the way tickets are purchased.
The zoo says onsite tickets are currently unavailable and must be purchased in advance online for specific timeslots.
Masks must also be worn through the entrance and in areas where social distancing isn't a possibility. Visitors will follow a one-way track through the grounds.
And while Executive Director Greg Bockheim says some exhibits are closed, visitors will notice some new animals.
"There’s lots of baby animals at the zoo that were born in the past three months so we’ve had a couple of bongo, we have a giraffe, another giraffe soon to be born. Our baby tapir Luther is out often swimming in his pool. We have a baby sloth so there are lots of new animals to be seen at the zoo today," Bockheim told News 3.
To start, Bockheim says the Virginia Zoo will keep attendance at about 25 percent capacity, but could raise the number in the coming weeks.
Now, the focus is giving people a safe experience and trying to make up lost revenue from the last three months, which Bockheim says are typically the busiest of the year.
"Our revenue loss over this three month period is approaching about $2 million so that’s an enormous amount of money," he said. "We just established an emergency fund to help us generate some revenue."
The zoo is asking for donations to the fund, which can be found HERE.