Lions, Tigers, And Social Distancing

By: Catherine Sasso

Lions, tigers, and social distancing Cayuga the wolf waiting for an apple at the Wolf Mountain Nature Center in Symrna. (Photo from Wolf Mountain)

One of my favorite things to do every summer is going to visit the local animal sanctuaries and zoos. Since the shutdown, I wasn't sure that the tradition was going to be able to continue. However, as New York reopens, so are the zoos.

Most recently, I was able to walk around Animal Adventure in Harpursville. Masks are required upon entry, but you were able to remove them once inside the park as long as you maintained social distancing. This was pretty easy to do as the paths were labeled with six foot markers. There were also hand sanitizer stations all throughout the park.

This made for a better park experience in my opinion. No one was crowding you to pet the donkeys, and the extra sanitation stations made it easier to wash up after having April the Giraffe wrap her whole tongue around your hand.

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The only downside to the social distancing is that the park was only allowed to hold about ten guests at a time in the gift shop. When we were getting ready to leave, we had plans to peruse to the shop, but a line of about 30 people waiting to get inside proved to be too long of a hold up.

Animal Adventure is open seven days a week from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. for foot traffic. They are still offering the drive-thru experience on Thursdays between 9 a.m. and 10 a.m.

Since learning that animal parks and sanctuaries were closed, I've been monitoring the Wolf Mountain Nature Center's website eagerly awaiting their reopening. Last week I was delighted to see that they are now open on Sundays from 12 to 4 p.m.

The center has 24 animals consisting of wolves, coyotes, and arctic foxes. These animals have all been raised since they were pups by humans, so they are very accustomed to people and will come right up to the fence to visit you.

The facility states that they have new protocols to keep up with the social distancing guidelines. Their walking loop around the exhibits will be a one-way trail with reminders to social distance.

The center has also added two brand new wooded walking trails. According to the center these are short, easy trails that go past The Lightening Tree, Wishing Tree, and pond. Hikers using the trails do so at their own risk and must follow trail signs and direction arrows.

Some more good news in the world of zoos, on July 2 Ross Park Zoo in Binghamton will be reopening to the public. My first memories of going to a zoo are of walking around Ross Park. The carousel would greet you with lights and music as you first walked in, once inside the red pandas were the first exhibit I would run to.

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The zoo will be open seven days a week, opening at 10 a.m. and admission ending at 4 p.m. The park is set up so all visitors will follow a linear path through the zoo. According to the latest update from the park the following areas and exhibits will not be visible until a later date: African Waters, New World Tropics, red-necked wallaby, Wolf Woods (wolves visible on upper path), Arctic fox.

Admission will be offered at a reduced rate of seven dollars per person until all areas of the zoo are reopened and all Ross Park Zoo memberships expiring on or before June 30 have automatically been extended for three months.

If you're looking for a way to get outside and interact with another living being I think visiting animals is a great solution.


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