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Africa Alive! zoo reopens - here’s how it will be different after lockdown

PUBLISHED: 08:06 01 July 2020 | UPDATED: 09:05 01 July 2020

Michelle Watts and her two children, Mia, seven, and Ollie, four, who walked, cycled and ran 100 miles in 30 days to raise money for the ZSEA. The family, who have so far raised £1,000, also pledged to learn one new animal fact every single day. Picture: BEN THOMAS

Michelle Watts and her two children, Mia, seven, and Ollie, four, who walked, cycled and ran 100 miles in 30 days to raise money for the ZSEA. The family, who have so far raised £1,000, also pledged to learn one new animal fact every single day. Picture: BEN THOMAS

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Africa Alive! in Kessingland, near Lowestoft, is reopening this week - to the delight of animal lovers across Suffolk. But how will a trip to the popular animal park be different after Covid-19?

Africa Alive! in Kessingland reopens on July 4 for general admission and July 1 to annual pass holders. Picture: BEN THOMASAfrica Alive! in Kessingland reopens on July 4 for general admission and July 1 to annual pass holders. Picture: BEN THOMAS

The zoo has been shut since the coronavirus lockdown in March, to help prevent the spread of the virus.

The tourist attraction, run by the Zoological Society of East Anglia (ZSEA), had warned that it might be “finished” had its enforced closure gone on until August, with money from visitors making up a huge part of its income.

However, ZSEA managing director Claudia Roberts said reopening on July 1 to annual pass holders and to general admission on July 4 would give it a “fighting chance of survival”.

The zoo had been given the go-ahead to open from June 15 but said it needed time to do a deep clean first, as well as put in place social distancing measures.

Africa Alive! in Kessingland reopens on July 4 for general admission and July 1 to annual pass holders. Picture: BEN THOMASAfrica Alive! in Kessingland reopens on July 4 for general admission and July 1 to annual pass holders. Picture: BEN THOMAS

■ I want to go to the zoo. What do I do?

Unfortunately, the days when you could simply turn up and pay on the door are gone - for the time being at least.

Instead, the ZSEA is asking people buy tickets in advance through its website.

Those booking are asked to choose a 30-minute time slot to ensure visitor numbers stay at a safe level.

The Africa Alive! shop will be open but with signage and floor markings to ensure social distancing. Picture: BEN THOMASThe Africa Alive! shop will be open but with signage and floor markings to ensure social distancing. Picture: BEN THOMAS

However, the organisation said: “Alternatively, you can purchase a ticket on the day of your visit using the QR codes displayed around our car park.”

What if I am bringing children?

Tickets must be booked for all children aged under three, for a donation of £3. This applies to all ZSEA members and non-members.

There will continue to be a daily hire service for buggies, which you can reserve in advance by phone or will be available on the day, subject to availability.

Africa Alive! in Kessingland reopens on July 4 for general admission and July 1 to annual pass holders. Picture: BEN THOMASAfrica Alive! in Kessingland reopens on July 4 for general admission and July 1 to annual pass holders. Picture: BEN THOMAS

All hire items will be cleaned prior to rental.

■ I am an annual pass holder. Does that change anything?

All visitors to the zoo must book their tickets in advance, either online or by using the QR codes in the car park.

Pass holders will be asked to enter their membership details upon booking.

Waveney MP Peter Aldous, pictured left, has welcomed the reopening of Africa Alive!. Picture: BEN THOMASWaveney MP Peter Aldous, pictured left, has welcomed the reopening of Africa Alive!. Picture: BEN THOMAS

Discounts for affiliate pass holders still apply. People will be prompted to enter their affiliate pass holder details at the checkout stage when booking tickets to the zoo.

■ How long can I spend in the zoo?

There is no limit on the time that you can spend at Africa Alive! People are just asked to arrive at the time their 30-minute time slot begins.

What happens when I arrive?

Several hand sanitiser points have been placed around Africa Alive! Picture: BEN THOMASSeveral hand sanitiser points have been placed around Africa Alive! Picture: BEN THOMAS

Once you have a booking reference, go to the admissions gate where your barcode will be scanned. Bring any members’ discount cards with you.

Payment is only taken by credit or debit card, as the ZSEA is operating a cashless system.

■ What safety precautions are in place?

There will be a one-way social distancing system around the zoo, with visitors asked to follow the signs.

Signs are in place around Africa Alive! to ensure social distancing. Picture: BEN THOMASSigns are in place around Africa Alive! to ensure social distancing. Picture: BEN THOMAS

A ZSEA spokesman added: “We have over 20 points where you can either wash or sanitise your hands.

“Staff are receiving daily temperature checks and are provided with the relevant PPE.”

Africa Alive! will also undergo thorough and deep cleaning and disinfecting, with contactless payments throughout.

■ Will I have to wear any PPE?

Visitors are welcome to wear face masks if they want to, but it is not a requirement.

Frontline staff will be wearing shields within retail and catering areas. Screens have also been installed at key till points.

■ Will there be access to toilet facilities?

Toilet facilities will be available and will be cleaned on a regular basis.

All toilets will, however, be unisex. This will enable families to enter toilet blocks together and avoid mixing with other groups.

■ Can I buy something to eat and drink?

There will be multiple catering areas open around the zoo serving take-away food and drink, with measures in place to ensure social distancing when queuing.

There will also be socially distanced seating areas available around the zoo where people can eat.

Alternatively, people can bring their own food to the zoo.

■ Will the shop still be open?

The shop will still be open, allowing two people/family groups in at one time. There will be screen guards at the till counter to protect both the staff and customers, along with contactless payment.

■ Will any parts of the zoo remain closed?

The playground areas, indoor seating, will remain closed until further notice.

There are also a few walkways through animal enclosures which will remain closed to protect the animals.

Animal houses an indoor exhibits will also remain closed, and people will not be able to pet the farmyard animals or visit the lemur walkthrough exhibits.

This will be changed as and when the government releases updated guidelines.

■ What happens when it’s time to leave?

People will be able to leave the zoo through the shop, with floor markers to separate people exiting the zoo and shoppers.

■ Can I still book for animal experiences?

Limited pre-booked and on the day animal experiences will be available but they will be adjusted to meet Covid-19 control requirements.


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