Topeka Zoo and Conservation Center Reopening Guidelines

5-11-2020

Phase 1 –Open Air Park

Phase 1 of the Topeka Zoo’s reopening plan will allow for high level restrictions to accommodate social distancing and prevent Covid-19 transmission.  Phase 1 will be initiated after Stay at Home Order expires and social distancing is still required when the maximum gathering limit is set at ten or less.

 

Applicable Dates – Through the end of Shawnee County’s Phase 1 for Reopening

  • May 14 – 17, 2020 - Soft limited opening for Friends of the Zoo Members. Single use or daily tickets will not be sold.
  • May 18 till the end of Shawnee County’s Phase 1 – Single use daily admission tickets will be sold at regular admission price.

Phase 1 Zoo Guidelines:

  • Total number of guests in the Zoo will be limited to no more than 500. At an occupancy level of 500, family groups within the Zoo will have enough space to social distance at 17 – 20 feet apart.
  • Employees working at the Zoo will be required to wear masks when the Zoo is open when there is a chance that they may come within six feet of contact with a Zoo guest.
  • Guests visiting the Zoo will be highly encouraged to wear masks or other partial facial coverings.
  • Employees working in point of sale public areas will be working behind plastic or glass shields and will be required to wipe down or spray with disinfectant their work stations hourly.
  • When the Zoo is open, there will be an Environmental Services crew on site continuously working their way through the Zoo wiping down or disinfecting high touch areas and other hard surfaces..
  • Brochures and maps will not be available during Phase 1.
  • Membership purchases or renewals will be encouraged to be completed online.
  • Single day ticket purchases will be encouraged to be made online prior to arrival.
  • When making financial transactions, guests will be encouraged to make that transaction with a debit or credit card.
  • Guest flow through the Zoo will be in one direction and will utilize a figure eight configuration.
  • All buildings will be closed to guests with two exceptions:
    • One bathroom near the Zoo’s café will be kept open. This bathroom will be sanitized and disinfected every other hour.
    • Camp Cowabunga Building will be utilized only to allow guests to pass through a stanchioned area to exit to the connecting path.
  • The sidewalk leading to the Zoo’s entry will be marked with symbols to help guests social distance while waiting in line to enter. A similar spacing system will be utilized in front of exhibit viewing areas.
  • During phase 1, guests will not have access to feeding machines or animal encounters.
  • Animal interaction exhibits will not be open during Phase 1. This includes the Lorikeet Feeding Aviary, Farm Yard and Saving Sharks touch pool.
  • Playgrounds and drinking fountains will be closed.
  • Café food and beverage and Kona Ice may be available for purchase.
  • While a limited number of trashcans will be available, guests will be encouraged to take their trash with them.
  • Throughout the facility signage will remind guests to maintain social distance.

 

Phase 2 –Open Air Park with Limited Access to Buildings

Phase 2 of the Topeka Zoo’s reopening plan will allow for moderate level restrictions to accommodate social distancing and prevent Covid-19 transmission.  Phase 2 may be initiated when social distancing is still required but the maximum gathering limit is increased to 50.

 

Applicable Dates – The Topeka Zoo will transition to Phase 2 of its reopening plan at the same time Shawnee County initiates Phase 2 of its reopening plan.

 

Phase 2 Zoo Guidelines:

  • Total number of guests in the Zoo will be limited to no more than 900. At an occupancy level of 900, family groups within the Zoo will have enough space to social distance at 8 - 10 feet apart.
  • Employees working at the Zoo will be required to wear masks when the Zoo is open when there is a chance that they may come within six feet of contact with a Zoo guest.
  • Guests visiting the Zoo will be highly encouraged to wear masks or other partial facial coverings.
  • Employees working in point of sale public areas will be working behind plastic or glass shields and will be required to wipe down or spray with disinfectant their work stations hourly.
  • When the Zoo is open, there will be an Environmental Services crew on site continuously working their way through the Zoo wiping down or spraying with disinfectant high touch areas and other hard surfaces.
  • Brochures and maps will not be available during Phase 2.
  • Guests that plan to purchase single day use tickets will be encouraged to do so online.
  • Membership purchases or renewals will be encouraged to be completed online.
  • In the event a financial transaction needs to occur at the Zoo, guests will be encouraged to make that transaction with a debit or credit card.
  • Guest flow through the Zoo will be in one direction and will utilize a figure eight configuration.
  • The following three buildings will be open during Phase 2:
    • One bathroom near the Zoo’s café will be kept open. This bathroom will be sanitized and disinfected every other hour.
    • Camp Cowabunga Building will be open.
    • The Animals and Man Building will be open.
  • The sidewalk leading to the Zoo’s entry will be marked with symbols to help guests social distance while waiting in line to enter. A similar spacing system will be utilized in front of exhibit viewing areas.
  • Guests will have access to feed machines.
  • Animal interaction exhibits will not be open during Phase 2. This includes the Lorikeet Feeding Aviary, Farm Yard and Saving Sharks touch pool.  However, on a low traffic day Saving Sharks or the Lorikeet Feeding Aviary may be opened for short periods of time.
  • Playgrounds and drinking fountains will be open.
  • Café food and beverage and Kona Ice may be available for purchase.
  • While a limited number of trashcans will be available, guests will be encouraged to take their trash with them.
  • Throughout the facility signage will remind guests to maintain social distance.

#ClosedButStillCaring

Effective immediately, we will be closing our public operations due to the Emergency Public Health Order issued on March 18th. Please know that this decision was not made lightly but for the safety of our staff, the animals that live here, and the community, we believe it is the best decision.

In the end, our job is to provide the best care possible for our animals while connecting all of you to them. The best way for us to continue that is to stay healthy so that our core team of employees can continue caring for the animals. The second part of our job, connecting you to them, is a little harder if we are not open but we are determined to continue to provide updates and stories from inside the zoo for as long as we are able. Check here and our other social accounts for this communication.

You've all heard this a hundred times, but this is an unprecedented scenario in our history and decisions are sometimes being made on an hourly basis. At this time we are not sure when we will reopen but know we are with you and we are encouraging you to continue the recommendations set forth by the multiple levels of our governments and health experts. You will hear from us soon!

Effective tomorrow, March 17, 2020, and until further notice, we will be transitioning to Level 2 of its Covid-19 Protocol. While we will remain open to the public, all of the public buildings will be closed. One public bathroom will remain open and will operate on every other hour disinfection schedule. For the time being, the Zoo will operate as an open air park.

“The Topeka Zoo and Conservation Center is a valued asset in our community,” said Zoo Director Brendan Wiley. “For those of us that work here, we deeply care about our animals, guests, volunteers, and coworkers. We realize that we are living in an unprecedented situation. We want to assure you that as we go through this situation, our animals, guests, volunteers, and coworkers are our topmost priority.”

In efforts to help keep our community connected to the Zoo during these uncertain times, also beginning tomorrow at 2:00, Zoo staff will post on its Facebook page a story about one of the animal residents that live here.

As a reminder, you can tune into our youtube channel to watch our Patas Monkeys, Giraffes and Tigers LIVE! Follow this link: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCvff1tmu6KDwchMM6B9MQvg

While our storytime is canceled, we are still accepting book donations. During this time, especially, it is essential for the Boys and Girls Club to give reading materials to students. They are also in need of crayons and activity books. A box will be left at the admissions booth.

The Topeka Zoo and Conservation Center is a valued asset in our community. For those of us that work here, we deeply care about our animals, guests, volunteers and coworkers. We realize that we are living in an unprecedented situation. We want to assure you that as we go through this situation, our animals, guests, volunteers and coworkers are our top most priority.

Topeka Zoo leadership and staff have spent significant time preparing for Covid-19 to make its way to Shawnee County. The Zoo has a three tiered protocol for managing the potential risk that Covid-19 poses for our animals, guests, volunteers and staff. Our protocol uses triggers from the Shawnee County Health Department to determine our level of restricting our operating procedures.

We realize that this is a tense situation. Research shows that outdoor venues like Zoos and Parks have been shown to positively affect mental health. For that reason and others, we will stay open to the public for as long as it is safe to do so.

Right now, the risk of exposure in Shawnee County is low. As such, the Topeka Zoo remains open to the public. As the risk to exposure changes, so will our level of operation. We have plans in place to protect our animals, our guests and our TEAM based on the exposure threat.

Our animals, guests, volunteers and TEAM are and always will be our top priority.

We value our community. This Zoo belongs to our community. We will guard it well. As the next few days and weeks hold uncertainty, as updates present itself we will post on our Social Media our status and what is going on at your Zoo that day.

- Brendan Wiley, Zoo Director