the zoo is back

Houston Zoo announces highly anticipated reopening date and guidelines

Houston Zoo announces highly anticipated reopening date and guidelines

Nelson baby elephant Houston Zoo
Houstonians can visit Nelson, the zoo's newest baby elephant, soon.  Photo by Stephanie Adams

The Houston Zoo recently made headlines with the announcement of Nelson, the strapping baby calf who was just born to mother, Shanti. Now, fans can visit Nelson in-person, as the beloved wildlife hub has just revealed a reopening date.

The zoo will reopen to the general public on June 3, after member opening preview days on June 1 and June 2,  according to an announcement on Tuesday, May 26. Since closing on March 14, the zoo has coordinated with state and local officials and based on their guidance and public health directives, according to a statement. This coincides with Texas Gov. Greg Abbott’s reopening plan, which allows state zoos to reopen by May 29.

Online tickets are now required for all guests; those without an online reservation will not be admitted. Tickets will be offered in three “dayparts”: 9 am to 11 am, noon to 2 pm, and 3 to 5 pm. According to the zoo, this approach will limit the number of guests in the zoo at one time and provide for increased social distancing.

The zoo will manage traffic flow with a one-way path and limit the number of guests. On the one-way path, guests can view fan favorites like whooping cranes, alligators, giraffes, rhinoceros, chimpanzees, elephants (including Nelson), meerkats, and more.

Whooping crane, gorilla, and cougar exhibits will have additional barriers to give extra protective space between the animals and guests. More information can be viewed on the zoo’s downloadable map.

All tickets will allow free access to TXU Energy presents Dragons, a unique, limited-time special exhibit.

New operating protocols have been established and include timed ticketing for all entries, a one-way path, limited food-service options, and focused disinfecting of high-touch areas. Other health and safety initiatives include online ticket sales, touchless transactions, requiring staff to wear masks, and enhanced cleaning methods. Several interactive experiences, including giraffe feedings and the Wildlife Carousel, will remain temporarily closed.

Zoo employees will be required to wear masks; guests are “highly encouraged” to use face-coverings or masks, per the zoo’s statement.