Zoo turns to weekend schedule; low attendance the reason

Two Eastern Angolan colobus monkies stay near the edge of their enclosure to watch as visitors pass by Thursday at the Gladys Porter Zoo.(Denise Cathey/The Brownsville Herald)

The COVID-19 pandemic has forced the Gladys Porter Zoo to change its hours of operation until further notice.

The changes begin on Monday, and the zoo will now only be open to the public during the following days and times: On Friday evenings, gates are open from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. and guests will be allowed to stay on zoo grounds until dusk; On Saturdays and Sundays, the zoo will be open from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., zoo officials stated in a press release.

The change comes just a week after the zoo began operating for half-days Monday through Friday.

Unfortunately, because low attendance continues, staff have made the difficult decision to further restrict the zoo’s hours of operation in order to conserve funds and keep the zoo operating, zoo officials said in a press release. The community is still hesitant to visit in the midst of this COVID-19 pandemic.

When considering this change to the hours of operation, a poll was conducted via the zoo’s social media platforms to determine what time of day the public would be most likely to visit the zoo. A majority of potential guests said they were more likely to visit in the cooler evening hours, which helped zoo staff to make the decision to open later on Fridays, hoping to give guests a break from the harsh summer heat.

In addition to this change, gates will now open an hour earlier on Saturdays and Sundays, so that visitors can make the most of the cooler morning hours.

Safety measures that were implemented when the zoo reopened on June 8th will remain in place. To limit the spread of COVID-19, facial coverings are required upon entry for guests ages 6 and up. They are also required when inside buildings and within 6 feet of other guests or staff. Tickets can be purchased online to limit contact at the gates. A one-way route around the zoo is still in effect to better allow for social distancing.

Officials said zoo staff is understanding of the community’s reluctance to visit the zoo amidst the current pandemic. Those who cannot visit are encouraged to lend their support in other ways, such as by purchasing a membership or through monetary donations.

For more information about how you can support the zoo and upcoming changes, visit www.gpz.org.