After four months of closure due to COVID-19 concerns, the Oakland Zoo will soon be reopening to the public.
On Saturday night, Zoo staff and volunteers staged an online fundraiser to help shore up some of the park’s finances. The zoo had been on the brink of closing for good, but was finally granted a reprieve from the Alameda County Department of Public Health.
The fundraising goal was met in a little more than an hour.
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“We couldn’t have done it without you,” said Franco Finn, Golden State Warriors hype man. “We raised $500,000 plus, and counting.”
The online fundraiser matched an earlier $500,000 gift from an anonymous donor.
“I know we’ve had a really tough several months,” Finn said. “But now we have our Oakland Zoo back, and we’re going to open to the public on Wednesday.”
Normally on a peak Saturday there are around 8,000 people circulating through the zoo. Zookeepers said the animals seem to have noticed the absence of visitors over the last few months.
“It varies species to species, but there are ones that seem to miss the crowd,” said Dr. Joel Parrott, Oakland Zoo president.
Parrott said the health department allowed the zoo to reopen by classifying it as an outdoor park.
Only 2,500 visitors will be allowed each day, and people will not be allowed to touch some displays. Some animals will have an extra space roped off to protect them from potential COVID-19 infection.
A great deal of effort has been put into making sure visitors have plenty of space to enjoy the area.
“We really believe, and we’re sure we can do it,” Parrott said. “We can spread people out on our pathways. It will be just like hiking in our state parks.”