Zoo adjusts operations

Lee Richardson Zoo is continuing to modify its operations in line with Finney County Health Department guidelines for addressing the COVID-19 situation.  Under current recommendations, the zoo will be maintaining drive-through and pedestrian access for zoo guests.


Effective Thursday, March 19, the Finnup Center for Conservation Education will be temporarily closed to the public. The Safari Shoppe, operated by Friends of Lee Richardson Zoo, is implementing a temporary cap on the number of customers in the gift shop at one time.  The six-customer cap facilitates the recommended six-foot spacing needed for the social distancing recommended by CDC and Finney County Health Department.  Dine-in opportunities at the Safari Shoppe have also been temporarily curtailed, based on current guidelines.  Take out service is still available.  Zoo staff are working on updates, home activities, and educational segments that will be offered via the zoo’s Facebook page and website.


“We want to offer as much as we can while helping to keep the community healthy.  This is a fluid situation, and we are adjusting so we can offer as much as possible in line with the guidelines,” Zoo Director Kristi Newland said.


The zoo is closing smaller structures in the zoo, such as the Nocturnal building and the Marie Osterbuhr Aviary.  These enclosures do not facilitate the recommended six-foot spacing needed for guests to maintain the social distancing as recommended by the CDC and Finney County Health Department.


Keeper chats, Storytime, the Richardson Railroad, and birthday parties at the zoo are suspended at this time.  Meetings, events, or educational programs already scheduled that comply with the current recommendations of 50 people or less, while maintaining social distancing, are still possible.  Larger ones are being postponed or canceled and no more are being scheduled at this time.  The zoo is also disinfecting hard, common touch surfaces such as doorknobs, faucet handles, and counters multiple times a day.


The zoo offers an open-air outdoor space that can be enjoyed while guests maintain the recommended social distance of six feet. Staff are still available to answer guest questions while at the zoo and will do so while maintaining the recommended distance.  The zoo will also be posting more often to its Facebook page allowing those who are staying in at home to stay up with what’s going on and enjoy the zoo in a different way.