MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — The Minnesota Zoo is back open to the public after being closed for four months.

The zoo opened to an eager crowd at 10 a.m. on Friday.

However, due to COVID-19, the facility is taking extra precautions, including keeping capacity to just 25%. Guests are asked to arrive in the half hour and stay no longer than three hours.

“We are requiring masks of staff and guests age 3 and up,” said Zach Nugent, a communications specialist for the zoo. “We have hand sanitizer placed around the zoo. As part of that ticketing where you purchase online, we are scanning through a window so there is no contact with our guest service staff.”

The zoo is also taking into account the safety of the animals. They are distancing animals that are prone to COVID-19 — like large cats.

WCCO’s Susan-Elizabeth Littlefield caught up with some of those attending and asked them what they’ve enjoyed the best on Friday.

“The prairie dogs because I said, ‘Let’s see if he goes in,’ and he went right into the hole,” Eden Prairie’s Avery Roberts.

Roberts’ mother may have been even more excited.

“It’s just been nice to have something to do outside again and keep him entertained. It’s been a long season of being indoors so we couldn’t wait to get back out here,” Katalja Harrington said.

Zookeepers say that when people weren’t around, the animals themselves were not as engaged or stimulated.

The animals are being protected from COVID-19 as well. There are extra transparent barriers, and extra spacing, for them and humans alike.

“It is going to be a slightly different experience but you are still going to be able to connect with animals, nature and this destination that’s been part of the Twin Cities for 20 years,” Nugent said.

Tickets are available online. To find them, click here.

Susan-Elizabeth Littlefield