Staff Photo by Robin Rudd / Justice Exum, left, photographs her daughter, Kennedy Eubanks, as she rides Bradley the camel. Zoo employee Xa Burton handles Bradley's reins. The Chattanooga Zoo was one of the few attractions open, following the coronavirus warnings, on March 14, 2020.

The Chattanooga Zoo will reopen this Saturday, May 9, after Mayor Andy Berke's recent executive order allowed some businesses and public spaces to reopen. 

To abide by the recommended safety measures amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the zoo has made changes to protect the safety of guests and animals, according to a news release. 

Visitors will need to purchase tickets online and in advance, and some indoor exhibits such as the Cougar Express will remain closed. The zoo will also plot a one-way path through exhibits, and visitors are encouraged to wear face masks and observe physical distancing at all times. 

"After 53 long days, we are very happy to re-open the Chattanooga Zoo to the public," said Dardenelle Long, the zoo's president and CEO, in a statement. "Thank you to everyone who has been doing their part to stay safe during this time, the staff and animals will be happy to see you."

The reopening of the zoo comes as other major attractions in the Chattanooga area remain closed, such as the Tennessee Aquarium, Creative Discovery Museum and See Rock City. 

A full set of guidelines can be found on the zoo's website or by phone at 423-697-1322.

Changes in operating procedures 

- When purchasing a ticket, you can choose a morning or afternoon time slot. Tickets are only valid for the date & time slot selected.

- Time slots are limited to a maximum of 350 guests.

- Chattanooga Zoo members will also need to reserve a ticket online - there will be no cost associated with the reservation.

- Some indoor exhibits remain closed including the Cougar Express, upstairs Himalayan Passage, and Gombe Forest Interpretive Center.

- Daily activities such as keeper chats are not currently offered.

- Zoo rides, Nature Play, gift shop, wheelchair and stroller rentals, and Wild Burger restaurant are currently closed.

- The zoo will plot a one-way path through exhibits that guests are expected to follow.

- Guests are encouraged to wear face masks and observe physical distancing at all times.