The BC Wildlife Park plans to reopen on June 1 under a number of pandemic-related measures.
The animal rehabilitation facility in east Kamloops, which has been closed since March 23 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, announced on its Facebook page its reopening plans.
The park anticipates reopening on Monday, June 1, with daily hours of operation being 9:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. amid mid-season admission rates.
"Even though our plan is to open up June 1, there's an awful lot of work to do to ensure we're in compliance with all the guidelines and regulations in order to do so," said park executive director Glenn Grant.
Some laid off staff have already been brought back and Grant said others will return beginning Monday. Once staff have returned, further planning will be done to ensure visitors can safely tour the park.
"Next week will be a very busy week," he said.
Due to measures being implemented by reopening businesses to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus, the park will not be offering wheelchair, stroller or wagon rentals. Although the indoor galleries will be open, the Wildlife Rangers Pin Program, Zookeeper feed talks, animal encounters and bird of prey flight demonstrations will not be a part of summer programming.
The Wildlife Express miniature train will not be operating upon reopening and VIP experiences, VIP encounters and birthday parties will remain on hold.
Other amenities closed include the playground and splash park.
The Blue Heron Café will be open for take-out orders only with a limited menu and the number of people in the park’s gift shop will be limited. The total number of visitors to the 100-plus acres of land will be capped at 1,000.
Grant said they arrived at that number based on the available public space inside the park, accounting for where people have typically gathered in the past.
"I can't see us reaching those numbers, but we want to know what we can handle," he said.
Grant, who met with other zoo operators across Canada in a video chat conference earlier on Friday, said some parks have seen a surge in visitors due to people who have been looking forward to visiting since the pandemic began.
He said although the park would likely not hit 1,000 concurrent visitors, it does typically average 800 in the summer months and it wants to be prepared to safely hit that capacity should a surge come.
"We're wholeheartedly looking forward to welcoming all our visitors and guests back. We've missed them as much as they've missed us, as have the animals," he said.
Those unable to visit the BC Wildlife Park in person can continue to watch weekly Facebook Live zookeeper feed talks, as well as virtual educational programming and encounters.