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All Chaffee Zoo Attractions Open Again, Free Tickets for Kids



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Visitors to the Fresno Chaffee Zoo can again soak in all the sights and sounds of the city’s most popular attraction.

With the state’s lifting of many COVID restrictions on Tuesday, CEO Jon Forrest Dohlin said, the Wilderness Falls water play, Dino Dig features, and indoor exhibits are open. Those areas had been closed since March 2020.

“Understanding how many people will be visiting at any given time helps us manage lines and groups throughout the zoo so every guest can make the most of their visit.”Zoo CEO Jon Forrest Dohlin, encouraging the purchase of advance tickets

Keeper Chats and educational presentations also are resuming.

“Keeper Chats and presentations at world-class exhibits like Sea Lion Cove are crucial to our mission of inspiring guests through engaging and educational experiences with animals,” Dohlin said in a news release. “We look forward to these opportunities to connect people with animals and conservation.”

Free Tickets for Kids Announced

In addition, Fresno Mayor Jerry Dyer announced that free tickets for admission on Tuesdays this summer will be distributed to local youth through nonprofits such as Centro La Familia, the Economic Opportunity Commission, and the West Fresno Family Resource Center. FAX will bus the youth to the zoo.

A donation from the One Fresno Foundation is underwriting a total of $10,000 in zoo tickets.

“Over the last six months or so, I’ve been doing a lot of youth forums, kids from all over our community, and one of the things that I’ve learned is that, as a result of the pandemic, many of our youth have been cooped up and … not being able to go out and experience a part of life that they need to experience,” Dyer said.

“I believe that we as a community have a responsibility to address each and every one of those concerns. And we do that by investing in our youth. That was the very reason why I created the One Fresno Foundation.”

Emilia Reyes, who is CEO of the EOC, said that a trip to the zoo can be an “experience (children) will remember for the rest of their lives.”

Cap on Number of Visitors Ends

Another pandemic restriction is ending: a cap on the number of zoo visitors. However, Dohlin encourages visitors to buy tickets online ahead of time. Those who purchase tickets for specific times will receive priority entry — making for shorter waits.

“We have found that timed ticketing and pre-purchased tickets help us provide a great guest experience throughout the day,” Dohlin said. “Understanding how many people will be visiting at any given time helps us manage lines and groups throughout the zoo so every guest can make the most of their visit.”

In accordance with state guidance, unvaccinated guests are asked to wear masks except when eating in designated areas. Masks are not required for fully vaccinated guests. Hand washing and sanitizing stations are stationed throughout the zoo.

Bill McEwen is news director and columnist for GV Wire. He joined GV Wire in August 2017 after 37 years at The Fresno Bee. With The Bee, he served as Opinion Editor, City Hall reporter, Metro columnist, sports columnist and sports editor through the years. His work has been frequently honored by the California Newspapers Publishers Association, including authoring first-place editorials in 2015 and 2016. Bill and his wife, Karen, are proud parents of two adult sons, and they have two grandsons. You can contact Bill at 559-492-4031 or at Send an Email