Oregon Zoo welcomes visitors back after nearly four months closed

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PORTLAND, OR (KPTV)- Lions, tigers and bears are ready for animal lovers alike to come back and visit the Oregon Zoo.

Sunday was the first day the zoo reopened to the general public since it closed its doors mid-March.

Before walking into the zoo, there are signs welcoming visitors back while also reminding people over the age of six to wear their masks and to keep six feet between themselves and others.

"We've been waiting for the zoo to open. We've been excited to get out, see the animals and have some family time," Karen Redfern, a visitor, said.

Once inside the zoo, there is no shortage of reminders people to "otter be safe" and to "paws" before thinking about touching any barriers.

"I think the face masks are great," Redfern said. "Limiting the amount of people actually in the park, we feel a lot safer."

Nikki Simmons, events manager at the zoo, said it took weeks to come up with a plan to keep everyone safe.

"The safety of our guests, animals and staff is the top priority. So, there was a lot of flushing through how that was going to work. Actually, executing the signage, stations, barriers, chalk art. It's been a long haul - two or three weeks," Simmons said.

While the experience may be different than what people are used to, visitors on Sunday said they were impressed with the measures taken.

"Felt very safe, everyone was keeping their distance. Plenty of hand sanitization areas. All the areas that are enclosed they're monitoring the people in and out, it's great," Austin Hoke, another visitor Sunday, said.

If there's anything people can be sure of during their next trip to the zoo, it's that they can see their favorite animal.

Anyone planning an upcoming visit to the Oregon Zoo, should keep in mind that they have to reserve a time-specific ticket in advance.

On its first day open to the general public, the zoo had 2,300 guests throughout the whole day. On any typical summer day before the pandemic, they could see just over 6,000 people through the park.

Copyright 2020 KPTV-KPDX Broadcasting Corporation. All rights reserved.

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