AUSTIN, Texas - The Austin Zoo planned to reopen to the public Monday, but then quickly learned they needed to close again.
Scott Chambers, director of animal care at the Austin Zoo, said zoos usually operate under the same guidelines as museums, which were allowed to open under phase one of Governor Greg Abbott’s plan.
However, during a briefing Monday, the governor listed zoos under phase two and said they could not open until May 29.
The zoo director said they now plan to allow visitors beginning May 29. Anyone who pre-purchased tickets online for a day prior to that will be contacted by zoo staff.
Once they reopen, there is a new face people can expect to see. Zulema is a 10-month old white tiger who was rescued from a drug compound in South Texas during a DEA raid.
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Chambers said she was being kept in a small dirty cage at the compound, so she is enjoying having space to run and play at the zoo. The juvenile tiger is now almost 200 pounds.
When visitors return to the zoo they will be required to wear face masks in order to protect the big and small cats, primates, and viverrids.
“So these guys have been shown to be susceptible to COVID-19. So really, honestly, the mask is not only for your own safety, but it’s also to make sure that it doesn’t transfer to these guys because my job is to keep them safe,” said Chambers.
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