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South Coast Zoo Open Again To Public, But Coronavirus Safety Concerns Change Experience

Raquel Prichard and her 17 month old daughter are looking at a huge gorilla at the Santa Barbara Zoo.  The Santa Barbara woman says after a more than three month shutdown due to the coronavirus crisis, it’s great the zoo is once again open.

It’s been a costly year for the Zoo.  It had to close in March because of the pandemic, and lost virtually its entire spring season to the shutdown. 

Even though it was closed to the public, it still cost about $600,000 a month care for its 500 plus animals, and maintain the 30 acre facility.

The zoo was allowed to reopen in mid-June.  But, a visit is a slightly different experience right now, with reservations required, social distancing mandatory, and masks a must.  And, like all business, especially ones hosting the public, the Zoo has beefed up cleaning efforts. 

Visitors say they notice some of the changes, but it’s not a big deal.

This is the busiest time of year for the zoo, with the limits on the number of visitors due to social distancing meaning that planning ahead is essential.  To help accommodate more visitors, the Zoo has expanding its hours.  It is now staying open an extra two hours at night, going from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. to 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. 

Lance Orozco has been News Director of KCLU since 2001, providing award-winning coverage of some of the biggest news events in the region, including the Thomas and Woolsey brush fires, the deadly Montecito debris flow, the Borderline Bar and Grill attack, and Ronald Reagan's funeral. 
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