With a new Health Order in place for Shawnee County, the Topeka Zoo and Conservation Center is strengthening its COVID-19 rules for visiting guests. “It’s part of our Help Us Keep You Safe campaign,” said Zoo Director Brendan Wiley. “Over the last six months we have seen how important it is to our community that we are open. We want to make sure we stay open and do everything we can to provide a safe and healthy experience here.”
The Help Us Keep You Safe campaign strengthens current protocols and makes changes to both ticket purchasing guidelines and mask wearing policies. The campaign focuses on the following points that become effective Saturday, November 14:
• Masks or face coverings will be required to be worn by zoo guests during the entirety of their stay except when eating or drinking. This includes times when guests are outside on zoo grounds. Masks or face coverings must cover both mouth and nose.
• Pre-order of online tickets will be encouraged for daily admission and is required for the Zoo Lights event beginning November 27.
• During the current health order, entrance into the zoo will be through the outdoor admission booth so that guests never have to enter a building if they don’t want to.
• Door foot pulls have been installed on many of the bathroom doors. Guests are encouraged to use those where available.
• As soon as they arrive, touchless fixtures will be installed in public bathrooms.
• Guests are encouraged to be conscious of others at viewing windows and not monopolize prime views for extended periods of time.
“The biggest change is guests being required to wear masks during their entire stay,” said Wiley. Prior to this, guests were allowed to remove masks when outside and they could social distance. “What we have seen is that even when outside, one group of guests can come close to another group of guests faster than they can put masks back on. As we are seeing the spread of COVID-19 ramping up, we have to do what we can to keep everyone safe.”
“It’s also about the animals,” said Wiley. The Topeka Zoo is home to a number of non-human species that are susceptible to coronaviruses including COVID-19. Some of those include tigers, giraffes, sloths, armadillos and the zoo’s critically endangered black-footed ferret. “We have an obligation to not only keep those animals safe and healthy but the staff that work with them as well.”