Edinburgh Zoo welcomes first visitors since lockdown

New safety measures and social distancing in place as crowds flock to see animals despite the rain.

Families braved downpours on Monday to visit Edinburgh Zoo on its first day of reopening after lockdown restrictions were eased.

Kids in anoraks saw penguins, meerkats and flamingos after the zoo – a world-class scientific research facility – was forced to borrow £5m during the coronavirus pandemic.

Signs have been erected reminding visitors to keep a two-metre distance from each other, and to walk single file to allow others to pass in the opposite direction.

The zoo, which is owned by the Royal Zoological Society of Scotland, was ineligible for UK Government funding and warned it faced a financial crisis if it was not allowed to open by the end of June.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon announced last Thursday that outdoor businesses such as zoos and garden attractions could reopen from today.

Anyone planning to visit the attraction must book online in advance, but the zoo said it was fully booked until July 12.

Perspex screens protect staff at the visitor entrance, where animal print face masks will be available.

Also available is a £5 ‘Go Safe Pack’, which includes a disposable face mask, a pack of tissues and a mini 60ml hand sanitiser.

There will be hand-washing stations around the zoo and extensive cleaning was carried out on Friday, including at the meerkat, penguin and flamingo enclosures.

Dharma The Tiger welcomes visitors back to Edinburgh Zoo.
Feeding time for the penguins.

RZSS chief executive David Field said: “We are thrilled to begin welcoming visitors back, with a wide range of safety measures in place to protect our visitors, our staff and our animals.

“Both our parks have large outdoor spaces and we are introducing social distancing, one way routes, closing indoor areas, limiting visitor numbers and selling tickets online with time slots.

“Other measures include additional cleaning and hygiene precautions, postponing keeper talks and penguin parades to avoid crowds, only opening our cafes for takeaway services with card payments and encouraging visitors to wear masks in line with government guidance.

“We are doing everything we can to make the zoo safe for everyone which means it will feel a little different to normal.”

Flamingos on display at Edinburgh Zoo.
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