By Alecia Reid

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — While the Jersey Shore gears up for its summer season, a popular tradition in the city — visiting the Philadelphia Zoo — is still not an option. The zoo remains closed, but on the other side of the gates, not much has changed as they work on their reopening plans.

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The staff has taken many steps to keep themselves and animals here safe.

Early on, the veterinary team identified that there would more than likely be groups of animals that would be susceptible to COVID-19. A large part of their operation has been focused on animal care.

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“We started with primates and bats. Even our red river hogs, swine are potentially susceptible and the big cats. We’d already identified that before the Bronx news,” Philadelphia Zoo CEO Andrew Baker said, referring to the several big cats who tested positive for the virus at the Bronx Zoo in New York.

Because many animal species are vulnerable to COVID-19, staff continue to wear masks and even practice social distancing with the animals.

“Even if it’s cross mesh, even with the big cats,” Baker said.

As they wait for the governor’s OK for smiling visitors to be allowed to return, they also want to ensure it will be safe for everyone.

“We’ll probably have a one-way flow through the zoo when we reopen so that people aren’t crossing paths more than necessary. We’ll limit attendance to a fraction of our normal capacity,” Baker explained.

For now, the zoo offers a virtual zoo online experience you can check out. In the meantime, if you’re looking for the real deal, Six Flags Wild Safari’s drive-thru is set to reopen on May 30.

There will be added safety procedures at the wild safari.


For both the zoo and the safari, once they reopen, it will be by reservation only.