Update: The Carousel, Nature Trek and The Children’s Zoo are now open. We will try to continue to update as more exhibits open.
If you’ve been here a while then you know that the Bronx Zoo is one of our most favorite places to spend time. It was one of the places we really missed. It opened for members last week and is now open to everyone. I know that families are looking for places to get outside this summer so I wanted to tell you the real deal about what to expect when you visit.
If you’re like me then you are still staying very close to home. We are still only going out very rarely. JustaBXgirl stays home with JustaBXgrandpa when I head to the store. Other than that we have only been leaving the house to go check in on Abuela. In the last few weeks though, I have been making a conscious effort to do “something” with her outdoors once a week. It has been good for both of us and helped our moods and my anxiety. Being kissed by the sun is amazing. The thing is though, I still worry about us being around a lot of people and if those people will wear masks.
These concerns made me worry about heading back to our backyard or as you know it, the Bronx Zoo but I figured if we went and I didn’t feel it was a safe place then we could easily leave and come back home. Let me share that I am so happy I took the chance. We have visited twice since opening and as I type this I am also on the zoo’s site registering for our next visit! Here’s what you should know before you go:
- You NEED tickets. – Even if you are a member, you must make reservations and get tickets for a specific date and time. You CANNOT get tickets at the zoo. you can reserve/purchase your tickets here. Again, do not show up without tickets!!!! You will wait in a virtual line to reserve your tickets, If you’re feeling impatient, don’t worry, they will email you when it is your turn!
- You’re going to be OUTSIDE. Yes, it’s the zoo and it’s outdoors so you know that. The thing is, if you’ve been in the past then you might not realize how much time you spend indoors. Only outdoor exhibits are open. There is no Bug Carousel, no Butterfly Garden, no Mouse House, no Jungle World, no Bird House, no Reptile House, and many other exhibits are CLOSED. The Monorail is OPEN and there is still A LOT to see but check out the website and make sure you are prepared.
- LESS STAFF – There seems to be less staff on-site. Now, I know that’s obvious with so much being closed but it’s more than that. On our last visit, the staff member that directed us through the front was the same staff member to check my group’s tickets and then was the staff member to rent us a stroller for the day! There are still staff members working the open exhibits AND walking around wiping things down throughout the property. There are even some staff walking around to make sure visitors don’t have questions.
- WEAR A MASK – All visitors 3 and over are expected to wear a mask at all times unless you are sitting and eating. During our members’ preview, it seemed that most people were wearing masks everywhere. When we visited this week, I saw a difference. I would say about 65-70% were wearing masks at all times but many were not wearing or wearing them as chin guards. This annoyed me. I have worked OVERTIME to get my seven-year-old to understand that wearing a mask is something that we do not just for us but for others then I get stuck explaining why people choose not to respect the rules.
- GET A MEMBERSHIP – If you’re going to visit the zoos at least twice in a year then I suggest you look into the membership because tickets can get expensive. They’ve only taken $5 off of ticket prices even though many of the exhibits are closed (see above). If you get the membership then you have constant access not only to the Bronx Zoo but to the Queens Zoo, the Central Park Zoo, and the Prospect Park Zoo.
- No Refillable Cups – If you go regularly then you might have a zoo cup at home. Leave it there. They are not current;y selling the reusable cups. Don’t fret. You can still purchase a band to get drinks all day rather than paying $4 per drink. The thing to remember though is that the fountain drink cups at the zoo have no lids.
- Hand Sanitizer is EVERYWHERE! They have done a wonderful job of setting up many, I repeat, many hand sanitizer stations. You will be able to find them throughout the park. I still bring disinfecting wipes with me on our visits. I have seen the staff cleaning spaces down but I still like to wipe down any place that we will sit or touch.