ASHEBORO, NC — The North Carolina Zoo has reopened to the public after being closed for nearly three months due to the pandemic. 

Debbie Fuchs is the Public Relations Officer for the NC Zoo. She was excited to see guests start lining up at 8:30 a.m. for the 9 a.m. opening.

“We are excited to welcome visitors back,” Fuchs said. “The animals missed the visitors. It feels like fall, but we are having a great opening day.”

While the zoo was closed, the staff created a plan to ensure guest safety. 

Tickets must be purchased in advance, and you can only enter and exit through the North American gate. Plus the walkways are only one way. Guests will also notice that six feet markers are placed at each exhibit in order to maintain social distancing.

Brent and Lynn Carter are from High Point and are visiting the zoo. They said guests are obeying the social distancing guidelines.

“They are watching the markers on the ground and sticking to it. That’s good,” the couple said.

The safety rules at the NC Zoo illustrate attractions can reopen safely. 

Amber Scarlett is the interim chief executive officer for the Heart of North Carolina Visitors Bureau in Randolph County. Scarlett said tourist destinations are using sites like Count On Me NC to help them establish safe business practices.

“We are confident the visitors will come back. We have spacious attractions people can safely travel within,” Scarlett said. “The Seagrove Pottery community is all spaced out. You can feel comfortable entering their shops.”

That’s a big deal because tourism matters in Randolph County.

“We are excited to have the safe reopening of the NC Zoo. They are our anchor attraction, and they drive visitation to our area and surrounding towns in Randolph County,” Scarlett said.

The NC Zoo is opening with a capacity of 2,000 visitors. Guests can buy their tickets up to three weeks in advance.