BRIDGEPORT, Conn. (CBSNewYork) — In Connecticut, outdoor cultural institutions were allowed to open May 20, but with so many precautions necessary many are just now ready to welcome visitors.

The Beardsley Zoo in Bridgeport is a popular tourist attraction and it will open on June 3. Director Greg Dancho says when the zoo opens on Monday, the experience will be different.

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“The things we are working on here that are most important are safety for our staff, our animals and our guests,” said Dancho.


Starting Monday, timed tickets must be purchased online.

Once inside, there’s no rushing straight to see the spider monkeys or one of the magnificent tigers. Visitors will be required to follow a one-way loop with paw prints on the sidewalk to help them socially distance. A QR code will load a form on your smartphone to order and pay for food and gift shop items, which have all been moved outside.

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“We just need people to keep common sense and we hope to get through this and move on to the rest of the summer and open up like we know everybody wants us with all the amenities we have here for all of our guests,” said Dancho.

Coronavirus has had a huge financial impact on the zoo. The Beardsley Zoo is down more than $1 million over the three-month course of the pandemic.

Weddings, birthday parties and special events have all been cancelled. The pandemic pause is also having an impact on zoo creatures, including the big cats.

“The big cats really enjoy watching our visitors,” said animal care specialist Bethany Thatcher. “It’s been maybe a little more boring for them. Especially the leopards, they love to interact with people through the viewing glass.”

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The Beardsley Zoo is ready to go with all the necessary restrictions for Monday.