The San Diego Zoo, San Diego Safari Park, and Sea World are opening their doors once again after the state-mandated closure on Dec. 7. The zoo and safari park opened on Saturday, Jan. 30, while Sea World will not be exiting the closure until Saturday, Feb. 6.
In a statement from the San Diego Zoo and Safari Park, the parks require that all visitors, ages three and up, have a ticket or membership, and a reservation to visit. Shows, shopping, dining, and transportation experiences will be limited.
“The safety and well-being of our guests, team members, and wildlife is our top priority. Both the Zoo and the Safari Park have implemented measures designed to ensure a safe and healthy guest experience,” the parks wrote in their statement.
Additionally, experiences such as The Guided Bus Tour and Kangaroo Bus of the zoo, and the Africa Tram and Cheetah Run of the safari park, will not be operating during the “initial reopening phase.” The Skyfari Aerial Tram will be operating, but with hours limited to 11 a.m. till closing, Thursday through Sunday. All merchandise locations and most dining facilities continue to stay open with limited capacities, menus, seating, and hours. Due to temporary daily on-grounds attendance capacity limits, the parks will only allow 5,000 guests in the zoo and 3,000 in the safari park. Same day re-entry will be prohibited.
“Some pathways may be closed, and some plant and wildlife habitats may not be available. Signs on grounds will announce any closures,” the parks stated.
Along with the protection of their guests, the San Diego Zoo and Safari Park has also made a point of protecting its residents, especially after members of the Gorilla Troop living at the zoo tested positive for the virus on Jan. 11.
“In an excess of caution, San Diego Zoo Global has added extra biosecurity measures in working with all mammals. These heightened biosecurity measures include: maintaining social distancing (six feet) between people and susceptible species wherever possible, the wearing of cloth facial coverings whenever wildlife care specialists are working in and around their enclosures, and the wearing of facial coverings during any medical procedures,” the parks wrote.
Sea World will be opening its doors on Feb. 6 in accordance with state safety guidelines for zoos. The park is unsure if it will reopen as an amusement park, or just a zoo, noting that they are continuing to monitor the COVID-19 situation and will make changes as needed.
“We look forward to welcoming our guests back to our park for fun, safe and memorable experiences,” a statement on the SeaWorld website read.
In order to protect the health of their guests, the park plans to implement health and safety measures that include the increase in cleaning and sanitizing, physical distancing, face covering requirements, and temperature screenings. They will also continue to severely limit capacity.
These openings will all be taking place due to the recent ending of the Californian regional stay-at-home order. Officials scrapped the order Monday, Jan. 25, 2021, as intensive care unit availability increased by 15 percent statewide. With the ending of the order, counties will return to the restrictions of their tiers.
“I feel like the parks should not be reopening quite at this time… The openings would benefit our community in financial regards, opening more jobs for people. However, in the long term these openings could lead to more lives lost and prolonged closings of more businesses as infections rise,” Andrew Ballas, a sophomore from Thurgood Marshall College commented.
San Diego County is still in the most severe purple tier. With this comes several restrictions, including the limited allowance of museum, zoo, and aquarium openings as long as they are purely outdoor. Purple tier restrictions also include the continued closure of amusement parks, keeping Sea World from opening up its famous ocean-themed rides. Despite restrictions, the parks are still dedicated to giving their visitors a memorable experience.
“Although your next visit might feel a bit different from your past treks through the Zoo and Safari Park, you’ll discover there is still plenty to see and do,” the Zoo and Safari Park website reads.
Photo courtesy of San Diego Zoo.