For nearly four months, no one has been around to watch the sea lions barking and swimming — or any of the other animals at the Bronx Zoo.

That’s about to change.

The iconic zoo was forced to close because of the coronavirus pandemic. It will reopen to the public Friday, July 24. Visitors will have access to nearly all of its exhibits.

“Not only did the employees miss the public, but so did the animals,” said Bronx Zoo Director Jim Breheny.

The zoo staff has worked every day of the pandemic to care for the animals and, more recently, to get one of the largest zoo’s in the country ready for people again.

(The Bronx Zoo is set to reopen from the coronavirus pandemic shutdown this month. Amy Yensi/NY1.)

“We weren’t in a situation like a lot of businesses, or say a museum, where you can just throw drapes or curtains over certain pieces of art, shut off the lights, and walk away,” Breheny said. “We still have a precious animal collection that we need to care for every day.”

Visitors will notice some changes. There are hand sanitizer stations, signs reminding them to stand at least six feet apart, and no one will be allowed into the 265-acre park without a face mask.

(Don’t get too close to the home of the sea lions — or each other: signs reminding visitors to keep at least six feet apart have been placed throughout the Bronx Zoo. Amy Yensi/NY1.)

All tickets are date specific and must be obtained in advance. That applies to members and free Wednesdays. A limited number of tickets will be sold for each day to keep attendance to no more than a third of capacity. Those tickets will only be available online.

While there will be fewer visitors, expect to see a few extra sea lion pups and a bison calf — a lot of animals gave birth during the pandemic.

“The fact that we’ve all been through this — we all pulled together and did what we had to do. Now that we can reopen, we can reopen safely. Its a really good signal, to New York, our community, and the whole country, that New York is coming back,” said the zoo director.

The zoo will open July 20 for four days to members of the Wildlife Conservation Society. Then the gates open to the general public. The Wildlife Conservation Society’s other properties — the Central Park, Prospect Park, and Queens zoos, and the New York Aquarium — also will reopen.



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