After a nearly eight-month closure due to the pandemic, San Jose’s Happy Hollow Park and Zoo will reopen later this month with new safety protocols — and without the typical crowds.
Visitors hoping to make a trip to the zoo will need to make a reservation online ahead of time, a new protocol put in place in order to keep the crowds below 50% of normal capacity and allow ample space for social distancing.
“We’re so excited to finally welcome everyone back,” said Charlotte Graham, a spokesperson for the zoo. “We have put a robust reopening plan in place and now we’re really just looking forward to providing a fun and safe experience where people can enjoy the outdoors, stretch their legs and learn about nature, our animals and wildlife conservation.”
Starting at 10 a.m. Monday, members of Happy Hollow can begin making online reservations for members-only days, which will run from Nov. 10-Nov. 21. Non-members and the general public can begin making reservations on Nov. 13 for visit dates beginning Nov. 24. Reservations can be made for time slots between 11 a.m. and 4 p.m.
Happy Hollow’s first phase of reopening — dubbed “A walk through the park” — will feature discounted admission for access to a one-way walking path that weaves through the park’s two zoo areas with rescue wildlife and endangered species. Upon return, visitors will finally be able to meet the latest addition to the zoo — a black-and-white-ruffed lemur pup, Koa, who was born in April.
Park officials have set up a new virtual tour and map that guests can pull up on their phones to learn more about the animals that they come across during their walk.
“It’s a new and different way to experience Happy Hollow than most people have done before,” Graham said.
The park’s rides, puppet theater, eating areas and playgrounds will remain closed for now. During this phase of the park’s reopening plan, reservations will cost $8.50 for guests ages 2 and up. Visitors will be required to show proof of their reservations to enter the park.
Since its closure, Happy Hollow officials have added a variety of safety precautions and policies, including sanitation stations, health screenings and requirement of face coverings.
Staff and guests ages 2 and up will be required to wear face coverings at all times while in the park. Due to this requirement, the park’s picnic areas are closed and guests are urged not to bring any food or drinks inside of the park.
Happy Hollow will also require that all guests and staff complete a quick health screening before entry, including a temperature check and a handful of yes or no questions related to symptoms and potential COVID-19 exposure. Visitors are asked to arrive 10 minutes before their reservation time to complete the health screening.
Happy Hollow, which typically receives about 500,000 visitors annually, has been closed since Mid-March due to state and county public health orders put in place to curb the spread of COVID-19. At one point earlier in the pandemic, San Jose briefly used the zoo’s parking lot to place more than 100 trailers for homeless residents to quarantine and ride out the pandemic.
When Santa Clara County moved into the Orange Tier of the state’s reopening plan last month, museums and zoos like Happy Hollow were permitted for the first time since March to open up to 50% capacity.
To read a full Q&A about the zoo’s reopening plan, click here.