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Riverbanks Zoo ready to reopen, implementing new safety guidelines

The zoo closed on March 16 and has lost over $5 million in revenue.

COLUMBIA, S.C. — Riverbanks Zoo and Garden closed over two months ago due to the coronavirus, and there’s still no opening date in sight. 

Susan O’Cain, director of communications at Riverbanks Zoo, says it has been a difficult time for the attraction. 

"It’s been a difficult couple of months," O'Cain said. "Coronavirus hit us at a very bad season. Spring is our busiest season of the year."

O'Cain says the zoo can see up to 15,000 visitors in just one day during this time of year. But since shutting down on March 16, they haven't had any visitors and have lost over $5 million in revenue.

RELATED: Riverbanks Zoo to remain closed through the end of April

Though the park is empty, employees are staying busy by planning a reopening strategy.

"Things are going to look different in the park. There will be limited capacity, everyone will have to have a timed reservation," O'Cain said.

Riverbanks is increasing hand washing and hand sanitizer stations throughout the park. They're also implementing social distancing guidelines.

RELATED: SC governor speaks on virus, reopening economy

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Another way employees are keeping busy is by connecting with fans through educational videos on their Facebook page and website.

They post daily z-learning videos on different animals or interesting topics. Tuesday's video features tortoises. 

Though Riverbanks Zoo doesn’t know when they will reopen, they say they are ready to open the doors when they get the okay from Governor Henry McMaster.

During a meeting of the task force that is giving recommendations to the governor, the head of the state's tourism industry suggested opening attractions this weekend. McMaster called that "a good recommendation." 

RELATED: SC attractions should reopen this weekend, group says, governor agrees