SALT LAKE CITY — Utah’s Hogle Zoo in Salt Lake City will join the growing list of businesses that plan on reopening Saturday.
On Tuesday, Gov. Gary Herbert scaled back the state’s coronavirus risk rating to “moderate,” meaning some businesses, like salons, gyms and restaurants, can resume limited operations. The rating restricts gatherings of over 20 people and encourages both employees and patrons to wear masks — all guidelines that Hogle Zoo will be enforcing on Saturday.
“I guarantee you all of the staff and all of our guests will certainly be wearing masks,” said Erica Hansen, zoo spokeswoman, who added that there will be an alternate entrance, social distancing markers, outdoor concession stands and gift shops, and a limited amount of tickets available to enforce crowd size.
“We have all this beautiful wide open space and all this gorgeous nature,” Hansen said. “We feel like people are itching to get out and go somewhere where they feel safe and we think this is the perfect place for that.”
While the doors to the zoo have been closed to the public for nearly 50 days, zookeepers have been working to ensure the animals are healthy. In early April, a tiger at the Bronx Zoo in New York City tested positive for COVID-19, prompting zoo staff around the country, including Utah, to take extra precautions with their big cats.
Zookeepers made sure to wear masks and gloves before interacting with the zoo’s cats, which include Amur tigers, Amur leopards, Pallas’ cats, snow leopards and Siberian lynx, all housed in the Asian Highlands exhibit. The zoo also has African lions and a number of small cats.
On Wednesday, Hansen assured the animals were healthy, and even suggested some missed the human attention.
“There are certainly some species who will appreciate having all of their favorite friends come back,” she said.
To see the zoo's guidelines, check the Hogle Zoo website.