Sunset Zoo officials talk attendance, plans for special events and the new Explorers Club

Sunset Zoo attendance
The Sunset Zoo has reportedly seen positive-attendance numbers since it reopened to the public on June 13.
Melissa Kirkwood, Sunset Zoo marketing and development officer, credits some of this to good weather.
“When we first reopened, attendance was great,” Kirkwood said. “They were like ‘wow, we’re so thankful you’re back open,’ and we are seeing that every day, that members and guests are coming back. We had really good attendance this past weekend. The weather was beautiful.”
Those going to the zoo in the near future can expect to see most of the indoor viewing areas closed off along with the concession stand and gift shop.
The playground area is open, but people are encouraged to be cautious as it is not often monitored by zoo employees.
According to Kirkwood, areas of the zoo will continue to open up as the phased-reopening plan progresses.
“We may look at opening some of our indoor locations, but it primarily will probably be things like more restrooms (being) available,” Kirkwood said. “We are looking to try to get the zoo open seven days a week.”
The zoo is currently open Friday through Tuesday from 10 a.m. til noon and 1 til 3 p.m.
Wednesdays and Thursdays are being used for cleaning and maintenance.
Special events
The show will go on at the Sunset Zoo as plans to host a number of popular events are underway.
“We are setting out date for August 8 this year at Sunset Zoo for Wine in the Wild and we are also setting out date for Brew at the Zoo,” Kirkwood said. “Traditionally, that happens in later summer. That date is set for October 17.”
As for the Sunset Zoo’s two-day SPOOKtacular weekend, Kirwood says they are still looking at what that and other high-attendance events may look like.
“We may go into block attendance for that just to keep the social distancing in play,” Kirkwood said. “We may have some prepackaging happening for things like that.”
For more information about special events at the Sunset Zoo, visit
Explorers Club
The Sunset Zoo will soon phase out its virtual summer camp programs and launch the new Sunset Zoo Explorers Club.
Through this program, kids in kindergarten through sixth grade will take part in daily challenges.

“The challenges are going to range from doing stuff out in your back yard, taking a walk through or taking a field trip to the zoo and we’ll have an activity for them to do when they visit the zoo,” Jare Bixby, Sunset Zoo education curator, said. “We’re really trying to promote that innate curiosity of the natural world that kids have.”
Kids will access some of the activities through the Seesaw app, which was also used for the virtual summer camp program.
By doing these activities, participants will receive what are called Explorer Points.
“With those Explorer Points, they will achieve different recognitions, they will achieve stickers and badges and they will also advance in the club in different levels,” Bixby said. “We’ll also have a leader board for the points that the club members earn.”
The pilot-version of Explorers Club, which spans from June 29 to Aug. 7, includes three two-week cycles with a manual membership-renewal required after each one.
The year-round version is expected to begin on Aug. 31.
Registration is available at

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