MAY 11, 2020

Sarrah Bates
PR & Digital Communications Specialist
407-323-4450, ext. 105

SANFORD, Fla., May 11, 2020—As part of Florida’s Phase 1 reopening of the state, following federal and local guidelines, the Central Florida Zoo & Botanical Gardens will be reopening to the public on Wednesday, May 13, 2020 at 10 AM.

Zoo operations will be modified until further notice to ensure the safety of Zoo visitors, annual pass holders, staff, and animals. Modifications will include limiting in-park attendance to 50% of outdoor capacity, required online timed ticketing for all guests, oneway pathways, additional barriers around certain animal habitats, and closure of high touch point areas and indoor venues. Every guest entering the Zoo will be strongly encouraged to wear a mask.

“The Zoo has been a great destination for the community for many years, and we’re thrilled to be able to reopen following all state, local, CDC, and AZA (Association of Zoos and Aquariums) guidelines,” said Dino Ferri, CEO. “We want to be an oasis for people to take a break from the stress of the past few months and let them enjoy nature and our animals.”

The Central Florida Zoo & Botanical Gardens has developed and enacted a Reopening and Modified Operations Plan. The plan was presented to Seminole County Emergency Management officials on Thursday, May 6. With guidance from Seminole County officials, the Zoo has been approved to resume modified operations.

Modifications Include:

  • Reduced operating hours to allow for additional cleaning and sanitation.
  • Online timed tickets required for all guests, to ensure safe and comfortable capacity and limited contact admissions.
  • A six-foot minimum of physical distancing will be required, monitored, and enforced throughout the property.
  • Based on current State guidelines, the Zoo’s limited indoor venues will remain closed, including the Insect Zoo, Zoofari Outpost Gift Shop, Bear House, and Herpetarium.
  • High touch points in the Zoo, including the Wharton-Smith Tropical Splash Ground, the KaBoom! Playground, and the Spectrum News13 Children’s Garden will be closed.
  • In-park feedings and encounters are suspended until further notice.
  • Activities that would encourage the congregation of any group of more than 10 people, such as chats and shows, will not be offered.
  • Seminole Aerial Adventures will not be operating at this time.
  • Sonny’s BBQ will operate from 10:30 AM to 3 PM.
  • Enhanced cleaning protocols will be enacted throughout the day.
  • Additional training and PPE required for all Zoo employees.

Just prior to the Zoo’s closure on March 14th, additional antibacterial hand sanitizer dispensers were placed at key exit and entry points throughout the Zoo, thanks to a partnership with Orlando Health. Upon reopening to the public, additional signage to promote hand washing and best hygiene practices will be posted throughout the park.

During the Zoo’s eight-week closure, animal and horticulture care teams, veterinary staff, and essential facilities members all remained on grounds to provide care for our 350 animals and maintain our 116-acre property. Educational programming shifted to digital platforms and included videos of the animals, some behind-the-scenes access with the keepers, as well as crafts and activities.

“It has been amazing to see the community come together to support the Zoo during our closure,” added Ferri. “There are no words to express how thankful we are to each and every person who interacted with us on social media, sent messages of support, and contributed to our Emergency Operating Fund. We can’t wait to open our gates and see the park filled with people again.”

The Zoo will open an hour early on Tuesdays from 9 AM to 10 AM to accommodate our vulnerable guests. Tickets must be purchased online, in advance, through the Zoo’s website.

For information about the Zoo’s reopening and to purchase required timed tickets, please visit

PLEASE NOTE: The City of Sanford is continuing construction on West Seminole Boulevard at the Zoo's entrance. The Zoo is reopening with modified operations and will be accessible to guests from eastbound West Seminole Boulevard from Monroe Road, eastbound 17-92, or Interstate 4. Guests will not be able to access the Zoo from westbound West Seminole Boulevard. Visitors are encouraged to be mindful of possible detours and changes in traffic patterns while construction continues in the area near the Zoo's entrance.

Seminole County Office of Emergency Management will be hosting a press conference at 10 AM this morning, May 11, 2020, at the Central Florida Zoo & Botanical Gardens. The Zoo's CEO, Dino Ferri, will be a guest speaker to announce the Zoo's reopening. Media is invited to attend.

Those attending who would like to speak with Dino Ferri, CEO, should make arrangements through the Zoo's Public Relations & Digital Communications Specialist, Sarrah Bates upon arrival, by calling 407-323-4450 ext. 105, or by emailing


Central Florida Zoo & Botanical Gardens is home to over 350 animals in Sanford, Florida. As a not-for-profit organization, it is a leader in conservation, providing experiences that excite and inspire actions on behalf of wildlife. More information is available at