Mill Mountain Zoo increases visitor capacity

Shayne Dwyer/WDBJ7
Shayne Dwyer/WDBJ7(WDBJ)
Published: Mar. 31, 2021 at 10:53 AM EDT
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ROANOKE, Va. (WDBJ) - For the first time since its initial reduction of capacity, the Mill Mountain Zoo is updating its pandemic policies. Beginning April 1, the zoo will increase its capacity to 120 guests per hour.

The zoo said it determined its capacity very conservatively when COVID-19 restrictions were mandated by Governor Ralph Northam. Even with restrictions easing, the zoo decided to keep its numbers low and guests spread widely throughout the facility in the best interest of community health. Now, the zoo says it feels comfortable complying with the governor’s guidelines increasing venues to 30% of their capacity, since vaccination rates are rising and the number of cases is plateauing.

Since the pandemic began in 2020, people have been seeking outdoor forms of entertainment. Mill Mountain Zoo said this year it has seen a rise in attendance earlier in the season than usual.

“Since the weather has been so nice, a lot of people have wanted to enjoy the outdoors. We’ve been regularly hitting our COVID-19 level capacity. Increasing our capacity per hour will allow more guests to spend time outdoors while learning about wildlife conservation and our animals.,” said Kontessa St. Clair, guest services manager.

The zoo has switched to its spring/summer hours and will be open seven days a week, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Guests are still encouraged to wear masks on zoo grounds and are required to wear them within the gift shop.

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