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Santa Barbara Zoo welcomes new people and animals during re-opening day


SANTA BARBARA, Calif. -- The Santa Barbara Zoo has reopened. Tuesday was the first full day it has been open since the COVID-19 pandemic.

The animals put their best webbed foot forward, and greeted the first 700 guests at the Santa Barbara Zoo on its re-opening day.

Stephanie Allen drove up from Camarillo with her daughters and their friends. She said, "[We were] chomping at the bit to get out and let the kiddos explore. And we don't want to miss all of this time of their life to be exposed to all of these different things."

Mike Gereau brought his two kids from Ventura. He said, "And not having that for the last three months has been kind of a drag. It's been hard to find things to do. But it's nice now that this is open."

Tuesday was also the first day guests got to meet some new zoo residents. Twiga the giraffe was born shortly after the zoo closed, lions Ralph and Felicia moved in during the shutdown and Kisa the amur leopard joined the family just before the zoo closed. Having visitors was a new experience for them

SB Zoo husbandry and wellness director, Misty Gray, said, "Some of our other animals like our new lions, Felicia was very interested in having the guests back, spending a lot of time at the windows, especially with the children. Moving around back and forth some swiping and having some fun."

"What did you think of the new lions?" asked Allen to her daughters. "She loves them."

A new measure the zoo has started is on your phone. To get the app text welcome to 805-749-2008. The app gives you information about buying future tickets and making reservations. It also gives you a map in the palm of your hand so you know how to get around the zoo safely.

"Its good to see that, you know, they're following procedures to keep us safe and taking reservations," said Gereau." So we felt really safe coming back."

Even though the zoo is open, there's limited guest space and more physical distancing and cleaning measures. If you want to visit the animals you have to make a reservation online on the zoo's website, bring a face covering and follow the rules.

Article Topic Follows: Santa Barbara - South County

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Scott Sheahen

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