FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WFFT) — Penguins, goats, otters and more welcomed guests into the Fort Wayne Children’s Zoo’s 57th season.
"We’ve come every year. It’s one of the best kids activities in the region," said local dad and Opening Day attendee Josh Spencer.
After COVID-19 restricted last year’s Zoo schedule, Spencer is just glad to be back.
"It’s been a long winter. A lot of staying inside, staying away from other people," Spencer said. "So to be able to get outside finally, it’s just fun. There’s a lot of excitement with the people."
Executive Director Rick Schuiteman is celebrating his first Fort Wayne Opening Day.
He says he’s encouraged by the area’s enthusiasm.
"I’ve found only in my six or seven months here in Fort Wayne, people love the Zoo. They just love it," Schuiteman said. "And so this is their chance to get out again and see it, so it’s fantastic."
Face masks and social distancing are recommended, but not required. While Schuiteman says guests can make their own decisions, he encourages people to be courteous around others.
"That’s when we just ask all of our guests to come in and be respectful and patient and understanding that we really want to try to respect some of those guidelines so everyone feels comfortable at the Zoo," Schuiteman said.
Schuiteman says his staff is regularly cleaning and following local health orders. So while there’s no capacity limit, he doesn’t think guests will have any issues.
"It seems like the Zoo’s taken pretty good precautions, and we’ve been able to get vaccinated, so it’s not too much of a concern at this point," Spencer said. "And as long as the crowds aren’t out of control and people aren’t right on top of each other, we feel pretty comfortable."
Schuiteman says he is already seeing membership and ticket sales bounce back from last year’s dip.
"So I’m optimistic it’s going to be a really good year for us," Schuiteman said.
For more information on the Zoo's hours and ticket prices, visit the Fort Wayne Children's Zoo's website.