Bronx Zoo-goers enthusiastic for socially distant safari

Jeanine Mcdermott with her children Mia and Liam look towards a flock of flamingos at the Bronx Zoo.
Photos by Alex Mitchell

As the Bronx Zoo prepares for a public reopening this Friday along with the Central Park, Queens, and Prospect Park zoos, Wildlife Conservation Society members who were given early access were enthusiastic for a return to the concrete jungle uptown.

But it’s a slightly different environment than patrons have been previously used to: strictly outside exhibits are viewable for the reduced capacity of guests, zoo-goers may only enter at 10 a.m., noon, or 2 p.m. in the Bronx, tickets must be purchased online for a specific date and time slot as no walk-up or on-site ones will be sold, face coverings are required for all visitors aged 3 and up, along with social distancing and contactless protocols that have but put in effect throughout the wilderness.

Starting next week, traditional free Wednesdays will also return but will require advanced ticketing online while day camps and education programs will be remaining digital at this time.

For in-person adventures, the zoo implemented a plethora of sanitizing stations throughout its grounds, many placed near no-touch admission gates.

A sanitizing station installed at the Bronx Zoo. (Courtesy of Julie Larsen Maher/WCS)

It’s those kind of precautions that encouraged Brooklynite Julia Kopelson to treat her children to a sunny, and hot, day at the zoo earlier this afternoon.

“They’re doing a really good job,” she said, mentioning that the Bronx Zoo’s know before you go webpage was incredibly helpful for planning what to anticipate upon arrival.

Kopelson, who is married to an ER doctor, also expressed a willingness to continue seeing the city’s iconic sights as they reopen in upcoming weeks.

“I think if it’s open then I feel pretty comfortable to go see it,” she said while overlooking giraffes and ostriches with her family.

Julia Kopelson and her family at the Bronx Zoo’s giraffe exhibit. (Alex Mitchell)
Kopelson’s children spot a giraffe in motion. (Alex Mitchell)

For a Long Island father named Gabriel, he’s been waiting four months to bring his children back to the Bronx Zoo.

He commented on how clean the park has been kept since its reopening on Monday, adding how pleasant it is to be able to return safely with his children.

“This is a nice feeling, we are happy that life coming back to normal,” he said.

Gabriel, a Long Island father with his family at the Bronx Zoo. (Alex Mitchell)

Pelhamite Jeanine Mcdermott also praised the zoo’s efforts for cleanliness while overlooking a flock a pink flamingos with her children Mia and Liam.

“We were so missing the Bronx Zoo in the spring… it’s a shame that some of the things are not open but we understand why,” she added.

As for Manhattanites Mark and Sally Riddles, they finally escaped from their “little apartment” for a day in nature with their grandchildren, Ruth and Eli.

“This is the first activity we’ve done,” Sally said surrounded by a herd of American bison, while Mark noted his sense of security coming from the statewide decrease of coronavirus rates.

For Eli, trips to the zoo are what he most looks forward too during a less homebound time.

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