WACO, Texas – The Cameron Park Zoo was welcomed back into the business fold Friday, and welcomed over 600 visitors through their gates.
While the visitors check out the animals, they may not see the extra work being done behind the scenes to keep the zoo safe.
“So we’ve got staff that are going around sanitizing different areas, public areas, where they might be touching things,” Education Curator Connie Kassner said. “When we do open up indoor areas, they’ll be open for limited times so that staff can come through and clean.”
Even with the excitement, not all of the exhibits were allowed to reopen. The Asian Forest with the Sumatran tigers and orangutans are still closed, along with any of the indoor aquariums.
Still, the zoo proves to be an ideal place to get the family out of the house. Nolan Riley brought his family, equipped with four young children, all the way from their New Mexico home to visit.
“It’s awesome to get [the kids] out here, let them run around and enjoy seeing stuff, learning new things and being able to put visuals to what we’ve been teaching them in their books,” Riley said. “It’s awesome.”
Being such a focal point for the local economy, the zoo reopening might be the tipping point for tourism coming back to Waco, or so thinks Waco Visitor’s Bureau Director Todd Bertka.
“The zoo is spectacular, and I know they’re doing a great job of getting it ready,” Bertka said. “The pre-COVID numbers were really solid, and we were doing well as a destination, but that world has changed. And so, we recognize that. And we’re going to responsibly get us back there as close as we can.”
The zoo claims it is the second-most visited attraction in the city, behind the Magnolia Silos.