By Bobby Tanzilo Senior Editor/Writer Published Jun 08, 2020 at 10:45 AM

The Milwaukee County Zoo will reopen to visitors as an "outdoor experience" on Saturday, June 13, Milwaukee County Executive David Crowley announced Monday.

The zoo closed on March 15 as part of a wave of closures to help stem the spread of coronavirus.

Now, the outdoor habitats will be reopened, with a limited number of visitors each day and measures in place to help ensure the safety of guests, employees and animals.

Timed electronic tickets purchased online in advance will be scanned at a safe distance. Online reservations are required for all visitors and Zoo Pass holders.

There will be signage and staff at the zoo to remind visitors and employees to maintain 6-foot social distancing along all paths, in lines and on rides.

A complete list of changes, as provided by the zoo, can be found below.

"The Zoo is one of the Milwaukee County’s finest assets, and an attraction that has been sorely missed by visitors during the current health emergency," said Crowley in a statement.

"And on June 13, we’ll be excited to welcome them back. The ‘outdoor only’ experience is Phase I of the reopening transition for the zoo."

Ticket Reservations:

  • Visit to make your reservation
  • A limited number of visitors/Zoo Pass holders can visit per day, to adhere to physical distancing
  • Online reservations are required for all visitors and members
  • From the webpage, choose the date and time you’d like to visit and reserve up to six tickets
  • Once reserved, you’ll receive an email ticket confirmation that can be scanned (printed or on a phone) from a distance or in a touchless manner upon admittance
  • Regular zoo admission rates apply; car parking is $12
  • The zoo cannot accommodate visitors without an online reservation
  • Visitors must arrive at their reservation entry time to ensure a safe capacity is not exceeded; the final timed entry each day is 1:30 p.m. No entry time after this will be allowed.

Zoo guidelines:

  • All visitors are required to wear masks. When arriving, visitors and their party will be asked if everyone has a mask. If a visitor has forgotten a mask, a paper one will be supplied. A limited quantity of masks is available for purchase at the Gift Shop Marketplace, just past the U.S. Bank Gathering Place.
  • Visitors will not have access to high-touch areas of the zoo: goat yard, Sky Adventure Zip Line/ropes courses, pony rides, playgrounds and areas where larger numbers of visitors could congregate: giraffe feedings, Animal in Action Talks and animal feedings
  • A limited number of restrooms will be open; with doors permanently propped open
  • Water fountains will be closed; the water bottle refill station in the Gathering Place will be open
  • All indoor animal buildings will be closed
  • Concessions will be available, with limited menu items, at: West End Snacks, Coffee Shop and The Coop Food Truck; visitors can bring in food and non-alcoholic beverages. No glass bottles.
  • Visitors can bring in strollers, wheelchairs and electric scooters

What the Zoo is Doing to Keep Visitors Safe:

  • A single point of entry will be designated through which all visitors are admitted
  • Hand sanitizer stations will be located throughout the zoo, including entry and exit areas, restrooms and concession kiosks
  • We are enhancing our already-stringent cleaning protocols, and continuously cleaning and sanitizing all high-touch surfaces like ride seats and armrests, tables, chairs, railings and more
  • Because the zoo is opened limited hours, this allows for extensive commercial-grade pressure washers to clean larger surface areas with a disinfectant additive
  • Zoo visitors (ages 3+) will be required to wear masks. Masks can be purchased through the zoo’s online gift shop at or at the Zoo’s outdoor Gift Shop Marketplace just past the U.S. Bank Gathering Place
  • All zoo staff members working directly with the public will be required to wear masks

"We know our visitors and Zoological Society members have been patiently waiting, and anxious for the zoo to reopen," said Zoo Director Chuck Wikenhauser. "We’ve put together this first phase as a careful and thoughtful plan for a limited reopening, with everyone’s safety as the top priority. Visitors can see the animals outside, walk the 190-acre grounds and enjoy favorite attractions like the train, carousel and the dinosaur exhibit.

"We are grateful we can welcome back our loyal fans, supporters and members to the zoo, just in time for the summer season and warmer weather. During this uncertain time, the zoo is a refuge for many of our visitors. Participating in outdoor experiences and making a connection with wildlife and nature serves as a comfort and healing activity for people. We are happy to provide that for our visitors, employees, members and our entire community."

The zoo is open from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. daily during this initial phase. Timed entry for visitors will be available from 10 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.

According to the statement, "The zoo is dedicated to the well-being and safety of its patrons, staff and animals, and will continue to follow the required guidelines related to COVID-19. Changes to zoo operations and protocols may occur at any time. Current guidelines are temporary, and when appropriate, the zoo will transition to reopening Phase II, with additional portions of the park open to visitors. Before visiting, check the zoo website.

Bobby Tanzilo Senior Editor/Writer

Born in Brooklyn, N.Y., where he lived until he was 17, Bobby received his BA-Mass Communications from UWM in 1989 and has lived in Walker's Point, Bay View, Enderis Park, South Milwaukee and on the East Side.

He has published three non-fiction books in Italy – including one about an event in Milwaukee history, which was published in the U.S. in autumn 2010. Four more books, all about Milwaukee, have been published by The History Press.

With his most recent band, The Yell Leaders, Bobby released four LPs and had a songs featured in episodes of TV's "Party of Five" and "Dawson's Creek," and films in Japan, South America and the U.S. The Yell Leaders were named the best unsigned band in their region by VH-1 as part of its Rock Across America 1998 Tour. Most recently, the band contributed tracks to a UK vinyl/CD tribute to the Redskins and collaborated on a track with Italian novelist Enrico Remmert.

He's produced three installments of the "OMCD" series of local music compilations for and in 2007 produced a CD of Italian music and poetry.

In 2005, he was awarded the City of Asti's (Italy) Journalism Prize for his work focusing on that area. He has also won awards from the Milwaukee Press Club.

He can be heard weekly on 88Nine Radio Milwaukee talking about his "Urban Spelunking" series of stories.