ZSL Whipsnade Zoo’s sea lions celebrate re-opening

Regular visitors will notice some changes to their usual Zoo visit

Monday, 15th June 2020, 11:10 am
Updated Monday, 15th June 2020, 11:54 am

The sea lions at ZSL Whipsnade Zoo have been making sure everyone knows the UK’s largest zoo is open and ready to welcome visitors back through their gates today (Monday).

Zookeepers bought a special sign to make it clear for all that the 600-acre Zoo is open once again.

The famous Bedfordshire zoo has been closed since March 21 due to COVID-19 but is ready and raring to safely welcome people back on site, following the government’s announcement on Wednesday, June 10.Whipsnade’s sea lions have starred in Facebook Live broadcasts hosted by zookeeper Alex Pinnell, as part of a series of virtual events to fundraise for the zoo during closure and keep the Zoo’s members and supporters up to date.

Zookeeper Alex Pinnell at ZSL Whipsnade Zoo with California Sea lions (C) ZSL

Alex Pinnell said: “The sea lions have played a huge part in keeping our members and supporters close to us while we’ve been closed, and we’re all so excited to finally see them all in person.

“The sign we shared with the sea lions’ exhibit today is something new for them to investigate, and a fun way for us to say loud and clear – we’re open!

“I love ZSL Whipsnade Zoo, and have never been more proud to work here than I have in recent months; it’s been a worrying time for us all but we’ve all come together and worked so hard to adapt the zoo experience; making sure everything is safe for our visitors so they can enjoy a wonderful day out with our animals.

“The support has been amazing and there was a huge demand for tickets when they first went on sale - the website was a bit overwhelmed by the traffic; but it’s up and running again now, so please do visit www.zsl.org.”

Zookeeper Alex Pinnell at ZSL Whipsnade Zoo with California Sea lions (C) ZSL

Regular visitors will notice some changes to their usual Zoo visit, including a one-way route around the zoo, extra hand sanitiser stations, contactless entry points and takeaway-only service from the zoo’s restaurants.

Floor markings will clearly indicate two-metre distancing, while indoor exhibits including the Butterfly House and Aquarium will remain closed in order to comply with guidelines.

Safety measures introduced:

- All visitors must book tickets in advance – and entry will be contactless

Zookeeper Alex Pinnell at ZSL Whipsnade Zoo with California Sea lions (C) ZSL

- Limited to 3000 visitors per day, split into morning and afternoon slots

- Takeaway food only available

- 2m distancing markers in place at animal exhibits

- Vehicle access around the zoo

Zookeeper Alex Pinnell at ZSL Whipsnade Zoo with California Sea lions (C) ZSL

- Handwashing facilities and sanitiser available throughout the zoo

- Outdoor benches and tables meticulously cleaned throughout the day

- Animal talks have been suspended to avoid gathering crowds

- Indoor and walkthrough exhibits will not yet be accessible to the public.

The Zoo will be releasing 3,000 tickets per day for visitors, and tickets must be pre-booked.

Find out more and book tickets online at www.zsl.org.