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Blank Park Zoo reopening Friday to members, Sunday to general public

Zoos are included in Gov. Reynolds' latest public health proclamation along with pools and wedding venues.

With businesses reopening in Iowa, Local 5 is dedicated to bringing you the facts not fear surrounding COVID-19. Text FACTS to 515-457-1026 for the latest coronavirus coverage or TRACK to follow along with the latest Iowa Department of Public Health data.

Local 5 News: What are the measures that you all will be taking to reopen to everyone on Friday?

Anne Shimerdla, President & CEO - Blank Park Zoo: We have lots of different measures that we're taking. I encourage everybody to visit our website before their visit. 

One of the first things that people need to know is that they have to have a reserved time ticket to come to the zoo. And so we are implementing this procedure to make sure that we can control our capacity and give people lots of opportunity to have space between them and other groups and other families that are at the zoo. 

You do that by going to our website.

Local 5: So in a way, being selfish, you could really say that maybe your zoo experience is going to be better than ever because you won't really be fighting the crowds like we have in the past?

Shimerdla: Right. That's what we're hoping. And again, we're really excited to have everybody come back and we want to do it in a responsible manner. 

So we want to start small. We'll be opening at 20% capacity, and that's where those reserved time tickets come in. So zoo members, the reservation line will open Thursday morning at 10 a.m. and Friday and Saturday are for zoo members only. So they'll want to go on the website right away tomorrow and reserve their ticket for Friday or Saturday. Zoo members have free admission just like they always do during a regular visit. But they still have to have that reserved time ticket.

And then the general public tickets: We'll be welcoming everybody here starting on Sunday. And those reservations will begin on Friday at 10 a.m.

Local 5: How about masks and sanitizing and that kind of thing? What is the zoo policy at the zoo approach on those important items?

Shimerdla: We'll have a one-way path through the zoo. And there'll be markers along the ground so that it's a reminder of how to social distance. 

We also are highly recommending that people do wear masks. So all of our zoo staff will have our masks on and be ready to greet everybody and we really encourage everybody to also bring masks for their families and we will have some for sale as well. 

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