Central Florida Zoo & Botanical Gardens will reopen to public, establishes special hours for vulnerable guests

Central Florida Zoo & Botanical Gardens says that they will reopen to the public on Wednesday, May 13th.

The zoo made the announcement on Monday, as Florida continues phase one of reopening.

They said that zoo operations will be modified until further notice to ensure the safety of visitors, annual passholders, staff, and animals. This will include an attendance limit of 50 percent of outdoor capacity, required online timed ticketing, one-way pathways, additional barriers around certain animal habitats, and the closure of high-touch point areas and indoor venues. In addition, guests will be strongly encouraged to wear a mask.

“The Zoo has been a great destination for the community for many years, and we’re thrilled to be able to reopen following all state, local, CDC, and AZA (Association of Zoos and Aquariums) guidelines,” said Dino Ferri, CEO. “We want to be an oasis for people to take a break from the stress of the past few months and let them enjoy nature and our animals.”

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The Central Florida Zoo & Botanical Gardens said their reopening and modified operations plan was approved by Seminole County Emergency Management officials.

The plan more specifically includes, as stated by the zoo:

  • "Reduced operating hours to allow for additional cleaning and sanitation.
  • Online timed tickets required for all guests, to ensure safe and comfortable capacity and limited contact admissions.
  • A six-foot minimum of physical distancing will be required, monitored, and enforced throughout the property.
  • Based on current State guidelines, the Zoo’s limited indoor venues will remain closed, including the Insect Zoo, Zoofari Outpost Gift Shop, Bear House, and Herpetarium.
  • High touchpoints in the Zoo, including the Wharton-Smith Tropical Splash Ground, the KaBoom! Playground, and the Spectrum News13 Children’s Garden will be closed.
  • In-park feedings and encounters are suspended until further notice.
  • Activities that would encourage the congregation of any group of more than 10 people, such as chats and shows, will not be offered.
  • Seminole Aerial Adventures will not be operating at this time.
  • Sonny’s BBQ will operate from 10:30 a.m. to 3 p.m.
  • Enhanced cleaning protocols will be enacted throughout the day.
  • Additional training and PPE required for all Zoo employees."

The zoo reportedly already had additional antibacterial hand sanitizer dispensers placed at key exit and entry points. Additional signage will promote handwashing and best hygiene practices will be posted throughout the park upon reopening.

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“It has been amazing to see the community come together to support the Zoo during our closure,” added Ferri. “There are no words to express how thankful we are to each and every person who interacted with us on social media, sent messages of support, and contributed to our Emergency Operating Fund. We can’t wait to open our gates and see the park filled with people again.”

The zoo said that they will also open an hour early on Tuesdays from 9 a.m. to 10 a.m. to accommodate our vulnerable guests. Tickets must be purchased online and in advance through the Central Florida Zoo & Botanical Gardens website.


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