ROANOKE, Va. (WFXR) – This past Wednesday marked the start of Phase Three of reopening the Commonwealth amid the coronavirus pandemic.
During the early months of the pandemic, the staff of Mill Mountain Zoo had already put in place their own precautions before the shutdown began. After Gov. Ralph Northam’s mandated shutdown of non-essential businesses, attractions like the Mill Mountain Zoo had to shut their doors to the public. However, Mill Mountain Zoo was able to keep staff on board during this time by way of payroll protection.
“March through May, when school gets out, is our busiest time of year. We have so many field trips, I do a lot of outreach to schools and all of that stopped.”Bambi Godkin – Mill Mountain Zoo Education Manager
Due to the shutdown, Mill Mountain Zoo lost over $20,000 worth of revenue.
“We also missed out on some of our family events. We had to cancel our Spring Fling event in March, our Party for the Planet Earth Day celebration in April”Bambi Godkin – Mill Mountain Zoo Education Manager
Money was raised to help the operation costs of the zoo in a variety of ways.
“We did a GoFundMe, we raised over $10,000 … just a little over $10,000 with the GoFundMe and people were really generous with just sending in checks and donations through our website.”Bambi Godkin – Mill Mountain Zoo Education Manager
Mill Mountain Zoo reopened in Phase Two, with restrictions on how many guests could be in the park per hour, which at that time was 50 visitors per hour. Now in Phase Three of reopening, that number has been increased to 75 people per hour.
The Mill Mountain Zoo Gift Shop is now open.
“We are really recommending that people book their visit online because especially Saturdays and Sundays we will sometimes hit our maximum capacity before the hour is up.”Bambi Godkin – Mill Mountain Zoo Education Manager
WFXR News spoke with many visitors, some on camera and some off-camera. Everyone was very happy to finally get out of the house and have something to do.
“It’s nice to be able to be out, we’ve always been able to go outside and do our walking and that kind of stuff, but to get out with family its an important thing.”Dee Dee Justice – Mill Mountain Zoo Visitor
“I’m a very active person, I like walking around and doing a lot of stuff most of the time, so, I think it’s amazing. I think it’s a great experience.”Hannah Gould – Mill Mountain Zoo Visitor
For more information and to register a visit with the Zoo, see their website here.
For more immediate information on upcoming events, virtual showcases, etc., visit the zoo’s Facebook page here.
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