Toronto Zoo pivots to ‘drive-thru experience’ as safe alternative in COVID era

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TORONTO — The Toronto Zoo is planning to reopen as a “drive-thru experience” once the province gives it the green light.

A spokeswoman for the zoo says a “pre-booked driving route” will allow visitors to see the animals from “the comfort and safety of their own vehicle.”

She says visitors will travel along a 3.4-kilometre route through the park.

Pivoting to drive-thru is one of numerous options zoos and aquariums are eyeing as they figure out how to safely reopen now that the spread of COVID-19 is slowing across much of Canada.

The executive director of Canada’s Accredited Zoos and Aquariums says the organization’s members are also looking at providing masks to visitors and having them walk along a predetermined route.

Jim Facette says roughly two-thirds of accredited zoos and aquariums have made use of government assistance, and this week’s federal announcement on help for the tourism sector is expected to bolster the industry.

But zoos have also had to make some compromises, including asking for donations from the public to make sure they can feed their animals while continuing conservation work.

And the Calgary Zoo announced this week it will be returning two giant pandas on loan from China because the COVID-19 pandemic has caused problems with getting enough bamboo to feed them.

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