As our state, county and city begin initial phases of reopening, ZooTampa at Lowry Park received approval to move forward with a detailed modified operations plan highlighting new guidelines and protocols designed to help ensure public safety while also restoring the community benefits of sensibly reopening businesses and outdoor spaces.
“We’ve all felt the anxiety and stress of the pandemic on people, including children.” stated Joe Couceiro, president and CEO of ZooTampa, “Outdoor experiences and connecting with nature and wildlife are healing and bring comfort to people. The Zoo can provide restorative family experiences that are within the recommended guidelines for controlling the spread of COVID-19.”
Using experts and scientific data, the ZooTampa team developed a comprehensive system of protocols for each area of operations within the park. The 17-page plan, which was submitted to county and city officials on Friday, May 1, calls for a target reopening date on or about June 1. Summary of the plan’s key points include:
- Limiting the number of Zoo guests to 50% of comfortable capacity
- Six feet or more social distancing will be required and enforced
- Based on current state guidelines, restricting the Zoo’s limited indoor venues to 25% of capacity, emphasizing outdoor seating, with staff supervision
- Adding safety and thermal monitoring stations at our single point of entry, hiring on-premise EMTs
- Providing PPE to employees and offering disposable masks to any guest free of charge
- Enforcing constraints to prevent the congregation of any group of more than 10 people
- Restricting close contact in the park through clear and enforced physical distancing guidelines
- Communicating new safety protocols with mandated training for every Zoo employee
- Zoo School, our on-site Childhood Education Center to follow the Department of Children & Family and Hillsborough County childcare licensing guidelines with an anticipated opening of mid-June
- Shift the start of Zoo Camp to start the week of June 22
While temporarily closed, ZooTampa’s dedicated team continued cleaning and sanitizing protocols of zoo grounds and providing exemplary care for the 1,100 animals who live at the Zoo. “We recognize that in everything we do, the well-being of our employees, volunteers, supporters, members, guests, and animals continues to be our foremost priority” added Joe Couceiro, “As we look towards reopening in the near future, we reaffirm our commitment to the mission of immersing guests into unforgettable animal experiences beyond the ordinary that help foster connections with nature, wildlife and each other.