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Calgary Zoo to reopen May 23; survey collects patron expectations

More than 7,800 Calgarians responded to Calgary Zoo survey to gather community input on a future re-opening – and now they’re ready to open the gates.

The survey included questions on what people would like to see done in order to safely re-open. This took into consideration social distancing, foot traffic patterns and hand-washing protocols.

Now the Calgary Zoo is opening May 23, according to information sent via media release on Saturday. It will include timed-ticket entry for visitors.

“This safety-minded one-way outdoor only experience is sure to delight, bring wonder and connect our visitors to nature in fun, playful and educative ways.”

Visitors will choose their own adventure as they follow one-directional playful paw prints that take them through the zoo in a self-guided way, mixed with fun animal facts.

Along with safety expectations, the Zoo survey included questions about favorite habitats to visit and eatery options. The survey closed last Sunday.

Alison Archambault, Director of Communications for the Calgary Zoo, said they already knew, when the survey was released, the pandas would be sent back to China.

“We’ve known since the pandemic started that there were significant supply chain fragility and every single week a member of our team was navigating those,” she said.

“We’ve known for quite a while that the challenges of getting bamboo existed.”

Calgarians want the zoo back but…

Early responses show Calgarians are excited for the zoo to re-open and to visit once it is, said Archambault.

They also shared their concerns regarding choices the zoo will make in order to comply with pandemic regulations.

The results of the eight-question survey are still being calculated and will be shared soon. On the Zoo’s Facebook page, several people asked about the status of memberships. They will be extended for the duration of the Zoo’s closure.

They worked very closely with Alberta Health Services on reopening guidelines. They want to ensure that they provide the right equipment and follow social distancing rules.

Areas of the zoo will remain closed. Unavailable until further notice as the Zoo supports a safe experience for all, will be: Wagon rentals, Water fountains, Carousel, Playgrounds and Indoor facilities, including: Grazers; Discovery Centre; Enmax Conservatory; and, Gift Shops.

Re-open at some point this summer?

Some Calgary businesses have the green light to open after Stage 1 of the relaunch began May 14. Others have to wait until May 25, or until Stage 2, which the province believes could be June 19.

In the May 12 City of Calgary coronavirus briefing, Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi said that civic partners, like the zoo, would be able to access a portion of $5 million in emergency funding.

“For many of them, this will make the difference between survival and a much bigger problem in the future,” he said.

Mayor Nenshi said some civic partners are trying to fit into the museum category – which would have allowed opening on May 14.

Others, he said “do not feel comfortable opening sooner, and are still working through their plans so it’s something that we are seeking more guidance on,” Nenshi said.

“But I imagine that you will start to see some of these attractions open over the course of the summer.”