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Como Zoo and Conservatory reopens after COVID19 closure by Ann Treacy
July 29, 2020, 11:42 pm
Filed under: St Paul

Aine and I visited Como Zoo and Conservatory for opening day today! We (including Lily and Kate while home) have loved Como forever. It’s super affordable. (Suggested donation $2-3 per person.) It’s small and therefore accessible for kids of all ages. Affordable and small have always meant that we could visit for brief times. So never has there been pressure to stay and get our money’s worth. So we have never had a bad time!

We were excited to be back. There are some new rules:

  • First and obviously, you must wear a mask. But the bonus is that it literally masks some of the smells of the zoo. And no one goes to a zoo for the smells.
  • You have to sign up for a timed entrance. There was no rush to get us out – but the entrance is scattered.
  • There is a path to take now. Frankly, this makes life easier. It certainly would have chilled some disagreements with toddlers who always want to go in different directions.
  • Some buildings and paths are closed. There’s clearly an effort to keep people outside and distanced. For better or for worse, the zoo is not huge and you can find the animals whether they are inside or out.
  • Another bonus: the butterfly zone is part of the package. It has been somehow separate in the past. Unfortunately we didn’t see a lot of butterflies in the area.

But with rules come some benefits. There zoo was not very busy. So we could get as close as we could get. For the first time ever, I saw the cougar outside. Turns out the cougar outside is pretty close to the visitors – like scary, exciting close. So that was fun! Also with so few people, we could camp out by the polar bear. The zoo expanded the polar bear area about 10 years ago. They seem happier and today we could soak up that happiness. (Although they looked hot too – but I may be projecting.)

We wondered if the animals noticed the difference of masked (versus naked) faces. Some were aware of us; some weren’t but that’s pretty usual. I was delighted that while they are working on the seal space – that building is open. So we got to see our very favorite puffins. We also timed our journey perfectly to see the orangutan climb to the top of the exhibit space – looking very much like King Kong. The kid near us loved that. (Watching the people at Como Zoo is always half the fun!)

We also spent some time in the inside rain forest space. Watching the underwater activity of turtles and fish is always relaxing. I hope they are able to keep that open through the school year. Whether we have online, on-site or hybrid, I feel like a mini-break to watch the underwater world of Como will help us both center ourselves.

One added note – the Conservatory is open. It has been for a while but even if you don’t go in – check out the lily pad ponds near the front doors of Zoo. Honestly even Monet would have a hard time doing justice to them right now!




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