Sunset Zoo; not just a summer outing

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Sunset Zoo in Manhattan isn’t just a summertime trip, but also a winter outing as well.

Melissa Kirkwood, zoo Marketing and Development Officer, says that the zoo is open throughout the entire year. She says the winter hours are a little shorter this year and tells KMAN one reason why.

“Our keepers can do that extra sanitation with the exhibit and the animals while it’s still light out,” she says. “Giving the keepers the best opportunity possible to have good weather, good lighting, and safe environments is really important to us.”

The winter hours are from 12 (noon) to 4PM each day. Kirkwood says they try to stay open as much as possible, but says there are some times in which they close.

“We usually make daily announcements if we feel like it isn’t safe enough to be open,” Kirkwood says. “We close if the walkways are icy or we feel like there is something coming in to the area, but for the most part we do try to stay open.”

Kirkwood adds that extra safety precautions with still be in place due to COVID. She says that along with sanitizing, they also have taken a few more noticeable precautions.

“You, as a visitor, may not have seen any of our keepers in the forefront when you visit the zoo because we have taken that precaution to not have things like keeper chats and thinks like that to keep them at a safe distance.”

Kirkwood says if you aren’t comfortable with in-person visits, they also have incorporated some virtual programs that she is excited about. She talks about one program called “virtual close encounters”.

“That’s where an educator can talk with you specifically. It’s geared towards the classroom, but it can be a small environment too where students or just anybody who signs up for it, they can do some critical thinking skills by asking questions with our keepers. We will interactive activities with skulls and pelts and some of our other educational materials that we use during programming.”

Kirkwood says there are several other virtual programs such as virtual birthday parties and “zoom the zoo”. She talks about a few perks of these programs.

“All of these programs are available to educators, to the community, to parents who are home educators,” Kirkwood says. “So it’s really a great way to enhance learning.”

To find all winter hours and virtual programs, you can visit sunsetzoo.com.

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