• John Jantak

Ecomuseum Zoo officially reopens


PHOTO BY JOHN JANTAK

Acting very catlike, the Canada lynx seems oblivious to the news that visitors to the Ecomuseum will soon be returning.

The Ecomuseum Zoo in Sainte-Anne-de-Bellevue has officially reopened its doors to the public June 26, after being closed for over three months due to the province-wide COVID-19 shutdown that began in mid-March.

A sneak-peek of the new safety protocols that have been put into place to ensure visitors stay safe while at the Ecomuseum was provided to volunteers on Thursday morning, June 25 to gather feedback on whether any modifications were required before the opening.

Reservations required

The Journal was invited to take a tour of the Ecomuseum grounds along with the volunteers to see first-hand what new changes have been put in place. All the trails have been transformed into one-way paths with large white signs emblazoned with red arrows indicating the direction in which visitors are required to proceed. Hand sanitizing dispensers are also available at different points along the trail.

There will be restrictions on the number of people who can visit the Ecomuseum each day. Visitors will be required to reserve their tickets in advance online, specifying their preferred date and time of arrival. There are no ticket sales at the point of entry and no one will be admitted onto the premises unless they have made reservations beforehand.

Partial return to normalcy

For the staff, the reopening with restrictions marks a partial return to normalcy amid the specific restrictions that have been put in place to maintain the health and wellbeing of visitors.

“We’re very excited about the reopening,” said Emilie Sénécal, Communications Director for the Ecomuseum. “We’ll be happy to have people on site again to visit the animals and to be able to talk with them. We’ve had a few of our employees and volunteers try out the trails and so far it has worked out very well.

“We want to see what the response will be like from the public. We will make any changes that will help improve our visitors’ experience but so far the feedback we’ve received from our volunteers has been very positive,” Sénécal added.

PHOTO BY JOHN JANTAK

Measures have been put in place to ensure visitors observe physical distancing to protect both themselves and staff, and visitors will be required to reserve their tickets in advance online.

Respecting safety protocols

The Ecomuseum expects the public will respect the new safety protocols. “We’re hoping they will. We put everything in place to ensure their safety and our employees’ safety as well. We’re depending on the public to be cooperative to make sure everything goes well. We really hope people will follow our simple guidelines,” said Sénécal.

Ecomuseum members are especially excited about the opening. “We expect a lot them to come out with their families to enjoy nature. We also expect non-member families to visit because we represent a safe outing for them,” said Sénécal.

Protocol for school students

With schools scheduled to reopen in about two months, the Ecomuseum will also be preparing a list of safety protocols that will allow groups of students to enjoy the animals in their natural setting when school outings resume.

“We’ll wait and see what measures the provincial government decides to implement. We’ll respect whatever recommendations they make. We can’t welcome large groups at this point,” said Sénécal.

For more information about the reopening of the Ecomuseum, visit their website at zooecomuseum.ca/en/.

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