Saint Louis Zoo hopes for 'early June' reopening; Will require face masks, reservations

"The zoo is still free, but they will have to make a time ticket reservation," says the zoo's director Michael Macek.

Carol Daniel
May 19, 2020 - 7:27 am

*UPDATE* – Saint Louis Zoo will reopen on June 13

ST. LOUIS (KMOX) - The Saint Louis Zoo is eyeing reopening – possibly in early June – but when the gates open there will be some big changes.

Michael Macek is director of the zoo and explained those coming changes. 

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"We have submitted our reopening plan to the city," Macek says. "They came back with us with a couple of suggestions for edits, and we'll be talking with them really soon about what the reopening window looks like."

He says there will be modifications to operations and to some degree to the facility.

"So, I would say we'll be ready to open probably the early part of June," Macek says. "But we are mostly looking to the city with regards to an actual day." 

Among the modifications, they are making public, the zoo will require visitors to buy timed tickets and wear masks. He says that means you won't be able to just show up any longer and get in.

"As you can imagine, so many people are used to just coming and they won't be able to do that any longer," Macek says. "The zoo is still free, but they will have to make a time ticket reservation online or they can call if they don't have access to the internet." 

He says it's going to help the zoo pace the number of guests as they come through. The zoo says it will only be allowed about one-third the amount of guests compared to its normal capacity when reopening. Macek says it will be no problem for people to practice safe social distancing across the 96-acre facility in Forest Park. 

"We will be able to accommodate some walk-ups, but only if those who made reservations didn't show," Macek says. "So that's one of the important messages to remember. Please go to the website, go to our social media to make a time ticket reservation."

Macek adds the zoo will still be free although the pandemic has meant an expected loss of 60 percent of the sales taxes it receives. Half of the zoo's budget is from sales taxes, a fourth from donations and the rest from the revenue from food and the gift shop. The zoo hasn't had to furlough any staff but they have cut salaries.

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