Binder Park Zoo opens with new safety procedures

NEWTON TOWNSHIP, Mich. (WOOD) — Binder Park Zoo opened for the season Friday after delaying because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The zoo has put in place new health and safety procedures aimed at protecting employees, animals and guests.

Binder Park Zoo near Battle Creek reopened on May 29, 2020.

According to President and CEO Diane Thompson, masks will be recommended.

Social distancing will be observed in the park and some activities have been blocked off. Crews are also sanitizing the tram after each row is used. Informational signs and guidelines are posted throughout the park.

The park closes for the winter months and normally opens in April. The zoo says it has the legal authority to be operating.

“Once the parks and outdoor recreation opened up, then we knew we fell into that, but it has just taken us that long to put new processes in place,” Thompson said.

Binder Park does not receive taxpayer support like many other zoos, making ticket sales more crucial.

“No doubt we’re looking at a deficit and opening certainly helps us mitigate that,” Thompson said.

Donations, fundraisers and membership sales also help keep the zoo going.

People visit Binder Park Zoo near Kalamazoo on May 29, 2020.

Stephanie Leiter was among the first inside Binder Park Zoo when it opened for the season.

“I think it’s great that they opened,” Leiter said. “Things are roped off, there’s plenty of room for everybody.”

Jen Popovits is a zoo member who had masks for herself and all her children.

“I feel like there’s an illusion of safety today because there’s hardly anybody here because it’s raining, but I feel like they’ve done the best that they can and we’re outside and you don’t touch a lot here,” Popovits said.

For more details on the new procedures or to help support the zoo, visit the Binder Park website.