Oregon Zoo set to reopen with added safety measures

July 6, 2020 - 8:36am

After nearly four months, zoo will reopen with a primarily outdoor experience

After closing for nearly four months to help slow the spread of COVID-19, the Oregon Zoo plans to reopen this week, welcoming back visitors for the first time since mid-March. The zoo will open with a members-only preview July 9-11, and will open to the general public beginning Sunday, July 12.

"The outpouring of public support over these past three months has been incredible," said Dr. Don Moore, zoo director. "The path forward may feel unfamiliar, especially at first, but we are excited to begin welcoming back our guests and continue working with the people of greater Portland — and Oregon more broadly — to create a better future for wildlife."

To help ensure a safe experience for all, the following measures will be in place during the zoo's initial reopening phase:

  • Timed ticketing/limited attendance: To prevent crowding and long lines, the zoo will open with reduced capacity and timed ticketing. All guests — including zoo members — must reserve their tickets online in advance. Guests will choose a day and time to visit, and receive an electronic ticket to be scanned once they arrive. Tickets may be reserved/purchased via the zoo website. Member-only preview reservations are available Monday, July 6. General admission and all other membership reservations go on sale Wednesday, July 8.
  • Primarily outdoor experience: Guests will follow a one-way, mostly open-air path through the zoo's 64-acre park-like campus, with some indoor and high-touch areas remaining closed. Visitors should keep an eye out for blue "Paws [pause] for Safety" markers along the route. Carousel and train rides will not be operating.
  • Masks/face coverings: For the safety of our animals, staff and guests, the Oregon Zoo will require all guests age 5 and over to wear a face covering while visiting, with the exception of guests who are unable to wear a face covering for medical reasons. Guests may remove or lower their face coverings when practicing appropriate physical distancing of 6 or more feet in designated locations only (listed on the map) or while eating or drinking.
  • Handwashing and sanitizing stations: Additional handwashing and sanitizing stations have been added throughout the zoo.

Learn more about what to expect when you visit. 

Dr. Moore expressed his gratitude to members and donors to the Oregon Zoo Foundation's emergency recovery fund, which provided a $1 million infusion to support zoo operations following the closure. Even when the zoo reopens though, it faces much uncertainty, he says.

"Reopening, even in this limited fashion, is a huge step forward," Moore said. "But we still really need help from our zoo supporters and friends to get us back on our feet."

The foundation is leading efforts to fund critical needs of the zoo during its scaled-back reopening. To contribute, go to oregonzoo.org/donate.

Moore also praised the efforts of the zoo's animal-care team, who "have not let COVID-19 slow down their important work" since the zoo closed on March 17.

Home to around 2,500 animals representing more than 200 species, the Oregon Zoo is one of the oldest zoos in the United States, first opening in 1888. Now recognized as a world-class center for wildlife preservation and field research, the zoo's 130-plus-year journey has seen vast leaps in animal-welfare science, and an increasing focus on sustainable operations, wildlife education and conservation.