Columbus Zoo welcomes members back Friday

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COLUMBUS, OH (WCMH) – The Columbus Zoo is reopening its doors to members for the first time in months due to the COVID-19 pandemic.  

“We’re ready we’re excited. We need people to come in,” said Columbus Zoo and Aquarium President and CEO Tom Stalf.

He said he is ready to welcome back members and soon the public for the first time in three months. 

“Being closed was devastating for us. When we open today we will see a $30 million dollar loss. We count on our guests in the summertime to come in and help us.”

A lot has changed since people were able to visit last starting with how you get in. Make sure you reserve your ticket online before showing up.

 “Were actually going to have that timed ticketing stretch out for three weeks at a time so you will have plenty of time to decide when you want to come.” 

All exhibits will be open but you will have to be mindful of social distancing. Staff will be in masks, and there will be a crew of people working to keep tables and highly touched surfaces clean.

“With three miles of wide pathways we are like a metro park we just have animals there,” Stalf said. “They have a lot of new animals at that. “Baby polar bears, a baby gorilla, baby cheetahs.. so many things to see!” And speaking of cheetahs, they have two cubs that could change the world.  “There are only 7,000 cheetahs left in the world and this is the firstborn in vitro. That’s a big deal so the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium and the Smithsonian, have been working on this for years, over 10 years and the reason we want to do this is so we can save the species.”

Conservation has always been a major component to the zoo’s mission, as they live by Jack Hanna’s motto, “Touch the heart to teach the mind.” 

“What that is, is just engaging our guests. Animal encounter village is a brand new facility. We are standing in it right now honoring Jack Hanna and its about engaging people, inspiring them, connecting them to wildlife and wild places.”

Jack Hanna just announced his retirement the day before the zoo reopens to guests. “We’re so happy for Jack. You’ll still see him around he just wants to slow down a little bit. I don’t blame him he’s having fun.”

For more information about the zoo’s hours or how to schedule an appointment go to columbuszoo.org and click “visit” to select an available time.

For more information visit ColumbusZoo.org.

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