June 24, 2020
As we prepare to re-open to our wonderful visitors, there is some new information that will be helpful when planning your visit.
NOTE: An inherent risk of exposure to COVID-19 exists in any public place where people are present. COVID-19 is an extremely contagious disease that can lead to severe illness and death. By visiting the Utica Zoo you voluntarily assume all risks related to exposure to COVID-19.
Re-Opening Dates and hours of operation
We will re-open to our Utica Zoo Members on June 29-July 1 and to our not-yet-members on July 2. We will be open from 10 am-4 pm 7 days a week. We will be open on July 4.
Masks and Social Distancing
To ensure the health and safety of all of our visitors, our highly trained and specialized staff, and, of course, our animals who are unable to wear masks, all visitors will be required to wear a mask or face covering while on Utica Zoo grounds. Exceptions will be made for people with health conditions that limit their ability to wear a mask, children under 2 years old, and while enjoying concessions in our Rotary Pavilion area. Persons who are unable to wear a mask will be given a sticker to serve as an indicator that our staff is aware that person is unable to wear a mask.
Wearing of face coverings or masks will be highly enforced. Any visitors with a strong aversion to wearing a face covering are invited to watch the NYS guidelines AND our social media for changes to this protocol and plan a visit for another time.
Social distancing measures will also be in place and enforced. Many of our paths will be marked as One-Way only. We ask that all groups maintain at least 6 feet of distance from other visitors at all times. Follow our yellow and white markers for directions and social distancing reference.
In order to properly provide ample social distancing space for all visitors, we will be capping our admission to approximately 33% of our capacity or 500 visitors at one time. While we do expect large attendance numbers as we re-open, we encourage groups to consider coming a bit later in the day to avoid waiting at the gate to enter. Admission will be rolling throughout the day.
Cleaning and Sanitizing
The Utica Zoo currently has approximately 40 acres of developed land, which includes a large number of high touch areas. Our staff will be cleaning and/or sanitizing high touch areas, including fences, handrails, doorknobs/handles, restrooms, etc several times a day. We highly encourage visitors to refrain from touching any surfaces as much as possible. Hand Washing and sanitizing stations have been positioned in various locations around the Zoo, in addition to our restrooms and additional portable lavatories.
Some areas of New York State have not yet re-opened to full operation. We strongly discourage visitors traveling from areas of New York State that have not yet reached Stage 4 of re-opening from visiting the Utica Zoo at this time. As these areas of New York State re-open, we strongly encourage you to visit at that time.
Tickets and Admissions
Standard summer admission rates will apply. The Utica Zoo will be open from 10am-4pm 7 days a week. Tickets may be purchased at our ticket window as usual. Advance sale tickets are not available. Tickets will be available for purchase or member entry providing the daily capacity has not been reached.
We encourage debit and credit transactions to minimize contact with our staff. Signatures will not be required and credit card machines will be cleaned after use. Admissions staff will have a barrier window between our visitors and themselves with a 6″ gap to allow payment and receipt transfer. Gift Shop and admission staff will wear gloves and will change regularly.
QR Codes have been placed in key locations throughout the Zoo to access a digital Zoo map on mobile devices. Simply open your mobile device camera app, point it at the QR code and it will automatically provide a notification to follow. Touch the notification to access the map. Digital Zoo Map can also be accessed at www.uticazoo.org/map. Paper maps will be available for those that request a paper map.
Our concession stand, Polly’s, will be open and available for concession needs. Our concession stand is operated by Feasts and Festivities by O’Connor and will be operating in compliance with Utica Zoo’s Master Re-Opening Plan and all proper NYS Department of Health and CDC guidelines for foodservice and preparations amid the pandemic. Staff working directly with customers will not be utilized for food preparation and cooking without proper hand washing and sanitizing in between. Concessions staff have also undergone additional training for health and safety measures.
Masks are not required while seated in the Rotary Pavilion. Please wear a mask at all times while not seated, waiting in line, ordering, or while exiting the Pavilion. We please ask to not move tables as they have been staged to provide social distancing for all of our visitors. If you need a larger table, please ask a staff member to assist you or select a picnic table on the outside deck for a larger group. Food consumption outside of the Rotary Pavilion is not allowed at this time.
Food Ordering Process
-Customers may enter the ordering line near the front of the Rotary Pavilion at the designated area. Please be sure to adhere to painted paws and cones for social distancing guidelines.
-Upon ordering from the window, customers will be given a table number. Customers will then follow the yellow arrows around the rear of Polly’s to the Rotary Pavilion to find a seat.
-Polly’s staff will find the customer’s table and place the order tray on the table. Please remove your order from the tray to reduce contact. Staff will then remove the tray. Please dispose of all trash in proper receptacles.
-Polly’s staff will clean and sanitize tables and chairs after each use.
Upon entry to the Zoo, visitors will encounter our outdoor gift shop area. Kiosks and racks have been stationed at social distanced intervals to allow shopping in safety. Gift Shop staff will be stationed at their register with a protective barrier.
The Zoo’s reopening approach (precautions and safety measures) have been put in place to maintain the health and well-being of staff, visitors, and animals. Our plan will offer visitors the opportunity to connect with nature, see animals, and spend quality time with family. By limiting visitor capacity and implementing health and safety measures described above recommended by local, state, and federal officials, as well as the Association of Zoos and Aquariums and USDA, the community can take in the beauty of the zoo in a safe way. We are committed to continuing to inspire our guests every day!
All items listed above are subject to change without notice.
The Utica Zoo reserves the right to refuse or rescind admission at our discretion at any time.