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Honolulu Zoo opening its doors to the public with limited hours

  • Video by Bruce Asato / basato@staradvertiser.com

    The Honolulu Zoo reopens today on a smaller scale and with limited hours in order to combat the spread of COVID-19.

  • BRUCE ASATO / BASATO@STARADVERTISER.COM
                                The Honolulu Zoo will see changes and signage in light of the coronavirus pandemic. The orangutan enclosure is seen from a distance, behind a barricade to keep proper distance from the animals.

    BRUCE ASATO / BASATO@STARADVERTISER.COM

    The Honolulu Zoo will see changes and signage in light of the coronavirus pandemic. The orangutan enclosure is seen from a distance, behind a barricade to keep proper distance from the animals.

  • BRUCE ASATO / BASATO@STARADVERTISER.COM
                                A white-handed lar gibbon climbed in its habitat in the Primate Island area of the zoo.

    BRUCE ASATO / BASATO@STARADVERTISER.COM

    A white-handed lar gibbon climbed in its habitat in the Primate Island area of the zoo.

  • BRUCE ASATO / BASATO@STARADVERTISER.COM
                                Honolulu Zoo Director Linda Santos provided a tour Thursday ahead of the public opening of the facillity today.

    BRUCE ASATO / BASATO@STARADVERTISER.COM

    Honolulu Zoo Director Linda Santos provided a tour Thursday ahead of the public opening of the facillity today.

The Honolulu Zoo reopens today on a smaller scale and with limited hours in order to combat the spread of COVID-19.

Zoo Director Linda Santos recommended highly that those kamaaina choosing to visit the Waikiki facility this weekend do so in the afternoon.

“I think that people are just ready to get out and … get some exercise … and something for kids to do,” Santos said Thursday at a news conference. “So we’re expecting a pretty good-sized crowd over the weekend, and we’re hoping that people will try not to just all come at once, because we’ll have to then make (some of) them wait.”

During normal times, 1,200-1,500 people visit on a given day, she said.

>> PHOTOS: Honolulu Zoo to reopen Friday with limited hours, social distancing measures

Hours are being shortened to 10 a.m. and 3:30 p.m. Wednesday through Sunday with the entrance shutting down at 2:30. “That’ll give us enough time to make sure that we’re able to get in and do a thorough cleaning,” Santos said.

Visitors will need to wear face coverings (except people with prohibitive health conditions and children under 5) and practice social distancing, she said. “We’ll have people on the grounds to remind people about social distancing,” she said. However, “we’re not breaking up family groups. They came together, they live together, we understand they won’t be social-distancing.”

Additionally, “the flow of traffic is going to go one way to try to keep people from bottlenecking in certain areas and not social-distancing,” Santos said. “So we’re trying to create as much flow of traffic as possible so people aren’t having to backtrack and run into one another.”

There will be a few areas where face coverings won’t be needed, primarily at the Great Lawn and in the concession area.

The amount of visitors allowed in enclosed exhibits such as the penguin, hippopotamus and African wild dog exhibits will be limited.

“High-touch” areas will be closed off entirely. Those include the Keiki Zoo, all playground and play apparatus, the walk-in Manyara Bird Sanctuary in the Savanna section, the hippo sculpture and all water fountains.

This will be the first time the public will be able to view two ring-tailed baby lemurs that were born April 18.

Click here to see our full coverage of the coronavirus outbreak. Submit your coronavirus news tip.

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