The Wildlife Conservation Society zoos and aquariums in NYC—which includes the Bronx Zoo, Central Park Zoo, Prospect Park Zoo, Queens Zoo, and New York Aquarium—are all finally reopening to the public on July 24. The parks have been closed since mid-March due to the coronavirus and our options for viewing “live animals” have been limited to live streaming zoos and aquariums. The parks will reopen to members on July 20 and to the public on July 24 with special arrangements and considerations to ensure the safety of visitors and staff. Here’s what you need to know about the reopening of WCS zoos and aquariums.
How will WCS zoos and the aquarium keep me safe?
Masks are required inside all of the parks, and sanitizing stations have been implemented to promote proper hand hygiene. Unfortunately, the parks do not offer refunds or date changes of new tickets purchased, even if the park is closed because of the weather.
The parks are also enforcing a contactless entry system, by which entrants will scan phone barcodes upon entering the park. Also, the park is enforcing mandatory social distancing guidelines in asking that families stay at least six feet away from other parties and avoid gathering with others at any point in the parks. At this time, there is no re-entry into the park for any visitors. Age supervision is also required and all entrants ages 17 and under are required to enter the park with an adult. Stroller rentals are available.
Through September 7, all guests have to reserve a specific, date-based ticket to keep the number of visitors down to 1/3 of each center’s maximum occupancy. You can purchase tickets online at each park’s website. On Wednesdays, advanced park tickets are free. You can reserve a ticket at 10am the day before (Tuesdays) for that Wednesday’s reservation. If you have an ticket from pre-pandemic times, you can exchange or apply that ticket to a new timed ticket reservation online.
Here’s Jim Breheny, general director of WCS Zoos and Aquariums, going into a bit more detail about how The Bronx Zoo will keep you and your family safe when you visit. Keep in mind, all of the WCS Parks will use these safety methods.
Will concessions be open at WCS zoos and the aquarium?
The food and gift shops at the zoos will be operating at limited services for now. Several services, including the Children’s Zoo, Nature Trek, and Bug Carousel at the Bronx Zoo, are closed for the time being. The zoo recommends that you use the park’s mobile site to see what will be available to the public on that specific day.
For those on the front lines, WCS is offering a special deal as a thank you. Healthcare workers are offered free admission to the parks through Labor Day by using the promo code HERO2020 and bringing their healthcare ID.