Zoo Atlanta reopens with new safety protocols amid pandemic

The zoo is working to keep everyone safe.

ATLANTA — Zoo Atlanta reopened Saturday for the first time since the pandemic started.

Channel 2′s Mike Petchenik talked to a local father who took his son to the zoo Saturday and said he felt safe.

Micah Greenberger said it was the perfect, beautiful day to go to the zoo with his 2-year-old son Beckett. Greenberger said normally, the zoo would be packed but because of the new guidelines, he had plenty of time to roam and keep his distance from others.

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“We’re trying to start to find ways to keep him entertained, and outdoor activities seem to be ideal for social distancing," Greenberger said.

Last month, CEO Raymond King told Channel 2 anchor Justin Farmer that he had been forced to lay off half of his staff and required senior management to take a 25% pay cut. He also suspended his own six-figure salary.

The zoo was able to reopen ahead of the late May phased-in approach that King had predicted in part due to $2.4 million from the CARES Act.

"It's certainly a big help and put people back to work," King said.

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Among the changes visitors will see during the first phase: itmed ticketing, a one-way route through the zoo and the closure of indoor venues.

"It's a very relaxed atmosphere," Greenberger said after his visit. "You can easily stay your 6-plus feet away from everyone else that's here. It's a very safe atmosphere, which is a very good thing in these times we're going through today."

Greenberger said about half the people at the zoo had masks on. He did see security speak to someone who was in a no-stopping zone. He also said there was plenty of hand sanitizer on hand.

Zoo Atlanta is one of the first outdoor Atlanta attractions to open, but more plan to follow. The Atlanta Botanical Garden will open Monday for visitors and a week later to the public. Patrons will have to reserve a ticket online.

The Zoo has taken a big hit but hopes to reopen in some limited way soon.