It may seem a few million years since the Assiniboine Park Zoo and its Dinosaurs Uncovered special exhibit closed amid COVID-19 pandemic restrictions, but it was only five weeks.
Time to get back to the Triassic, Jurassic, and Cretaceous periods.
The zoo held a members-only preview Sunday and Monday — and will reopen to the public Tuesday.
"As a large, mostly outdoor attraction, we are pleased to be in a position to safely reopen the zoo and so grateful to our members, visitors and community for their patience and support," Bruce Keats, Assiniboine Park Conservancy chief operations officer, said in a statement Monday.
Conservancy spokeswoman Laura Cabak said the Winnipeg zoo could have stayed open, but leadership decided not to.
"There is no category for the zoo," said Cabak. "We had to look at the public health orders here and there. We have a restaurant and we have a gift shop — we had to consult with public health several times.
"In the end, we just figured it was the right thing to do. And it was out of concern for the zoo’s staff, visitors, volunteers and animals."
Now the zoo — all 80 acres of mostly outdoor space — will be open, but there are some changes due to these COVID times and continuing public health restrictions.
"The Tundra Grill is takeout only, and there are other food choices, including a mini donut cart," Cabak said.
The zoo continues to have a marked one-way trail for visitors to follow through the park; while masks are not required outdoors (unless you can’t get far enough away from other people), they must be worn in the indoor exhibits.
The Dinosaurs Uncovered exhibit features replica dinosaur bones and other items indoors; outside are animatronic dinosaurs which come alive when visitors trip a sensor.
Cabak said visitors should not only physically distance from people, but also from the animals.
"None of our zoo animals have had COVID, but there are certain animals which are at risk," she said, including the "big cats."
"People will notice there is an extra barrier and markings. We say physical distancing applies to animals, too."
Kevin Rollason is one of the more versatile reporters at the Winnipeg Free Press. Whether it is covering city hall, the law courts, or general reporting, Rollason can be counted on to not only answer the 5 Ws — Who, What, When, Where and Why — but to do it in an interesting and accessible way for readers.