Many zoos to remain open to the public with coronavirus restrictions

Dierenpark Amersfoort
A giraffe says hello to children at Dierenpark Amersfoort. January 2020NL TimesNL Times

Update, 14 March 2020, 10:30 a.m.: As the situation in the Netherlands develops, it is recommended to check with the zoos listed in this article for their most up-to-date entrance policy. The article was updated to reflect that Diergaarde Blijdorp would remain open for its membership, but not for the general public.

The largest zoos in the Netherlands will mainly remain open with some restrictions in place following the introduction of new regulations on group sizes due to the spread of coronavirus. The government has ordered the cancellation of all events where over a hundred people are expected to attend, and the country's zoos and animal parks have implemented different admissions rules to keep crowds manageable.

Artis in Amsterdam and Ouwehands in Utrecht are all open on Friday with most of their indoor spaces closed. Public feedings, talks and presentations have been largely cancelled to prevent groups from bunching up. At Ouwehands, their indoor exhibits will close to the public beginning on Saturday, a spokesperson told NL Times.

Rotterdam's Diergaarde Blijdorp will remain open only for its annual subscribers from March 14 through at least March 31. "We have taken this decision because the closure of many recreational and tourist destinations has the potential of creating an uncontrollable flow of visitors to the Rotterdam Zoo, which would limit our ability to offer enough space to maintain a safe social distance," the zoo said in a statement. It has also closed off indoor spaces including most of its restaurants, and its popular aquarium and Amazonica exhibits.

Zoo representatives insisted that the public make responsible decisions when considering a zoo visit. “We recommend everybody with a cold stays home," a Blijdorp spokesperson stated. The zoo also that people more susceptible to illness avoid Blijdorp until the coronavirus situation is less of a threat to their health and safety. As of Friday, there were 804 confirmed cases of coronavirus. Ten of those patients later died.

Safari park Beekse Bergen is only allowing up to 60 people in its restaurants at a time, and has closed off many sheltered areas where animals may be viewed from behind glass. The zoo said it will also provide disinfecting hand gel or washing up stations in more locations. Hard surfaces will also be cleaned and disinfected more frequently. The same rules are in place for AquaZoo Leeuwarden, Dierenrijk in Mierlo, and ZooParc Overloon, which all share the same parent company.

Both Burgers' Zoo in Arnhem and Wildlands in Emmen are taking a less strict approach. Burgers' said on Friday that its indoor areas will remain open, but its indoor playground will be closed. At Wildlands, the indoor playground will be open, and spectators will be allowed to queue up for park attractions. The two have set a maximum indoor capacity of 100 people.

Dierenpark Amersfoort and Aviafauna also shut down all caretaker talks, and will allow no more than a hundred people at any indoor space at any given time.

Located in Kerkrade, GaiaZoo said it was drawing up appropriate restrictions in consultation with the municipality and the regional emergency management office. For now, the zoo remains open.

Apenheul is normally closed in the winter, and its re-opening was already scheduled for April 4.

The Dutch government's new rules are to remain at least through March 31.