San Diego, California - Health care professionals were recognized and celebrated with a special “thank you” event today, after San Diego Zoo Global invited community health care heroes to enjoy a special preview day at the San Diego Zoo and the San Diego Zoo Safari before both sanctuaries open to the general public on Saturday, June 20. At the entrance to the San Diego Zoo, San Diego Mayor Kevin L. Faulconer and San Diego Zoo Global President/CEO Paul A. Baribault symbolically reopened the parks through a ribbon cutting ceremony and expressed their deep appreciation for the dedicated health care heroes who work to keep communities safe every day, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We are able to celebrate the reopening the San Diego Zoo and Safari Park because San Diegans were responsible, stayed safe and flattened the curve of COVID-19,” said Mayor Faulconer. “Today’s milestone is a direct result of our City coming together to slow the spread of this pandemic and there is no better way to honor that accomplishment than by thanking our frontline workers who made it possible.”

Today’s health care heroes’ event ends a week-long series of special preview days hosted by San Diego Zoo Global to express the conservation organization’s deep gratitude to its dedicated donors and its many loyal members.

“We are honored to have the opportunity to include health care heroes as part of our preview week, and highlight their devotion to our community during this historic pandemic,” said Baribault. “Their presence here today not only allows us to say ‘thank you,’ but also helps us highlight San Diego Zoo Global’s commitment to the community by showing that while visiting outdoor public places may look a little bit different right now, it can still be a safe and enjoyable experience.”

San Diego County continues to be a model for adherence to the state’s safety and health protocols during the COVID-19 pandemic; and over the past week, donors and members who visited the Zoo and Safari Park had the opportunity to safely experience wildlife with their families, stroll among diverse habitats and take part in fun, educational activities. The reopening of both the Zoo and the Safari Park would not be possible without close collaboration between state, county, and local leaders and San Diego Zoo Global.

“San Diego Zoo Global has adopted a thoughtful, science-based approach to the re-opening of the San Diego Zoo and the San Diego Safari Park,” said Senate President pro Tempore Toni G. Atkins, D-San Diego. “While the experience will be different from the last time we all visited, what remains the same are the lessons in conservation, the opportunity to connect with nature, and the need to support threatened and endangered wildlife from throughout the world.”

To ensure a healthy guest experience, Zoo and Safari Park officials have enacted an extensive range of temporary changes that comply with guidelines outlined by local and state health authorities. Both parks will resume operations in stages that will start with limited dining and shopping experiences, reducing the number of guests on grounds at a given time, increasing the number of handwashing and sanitizing locations, maintaining robust cleaning routines, adding one-way path modifications and barriers, requiring the wearing of face coverings and observing social distancing practices. During the initial reopening phase, the Zoo’s Guided Bus Tour, Kangaroo Bus and Skyfari Aerial Tram, and the Safari Park’s Africa Tram will be unavailable. Activities that traditionally include larger numbers of guests—including some shows, tours and Safari experiences—will also be temporarily unavailable.

“Our San Diego community is fortunate to be home to the Zoo and Safari Park, and I am grateful to the staff of both parks, who continued to care for thousands of animals, birds and plants, despite the doors remaining closed due to the COVID-19 crisis,” said Atkins.  “I’m looking forward to once again visiting these local treasures.”

“We are tremendously appreciative of all the support and guidance we have received from local and state leadership,” said Baribault. “We are getting through this together.”

For more details on the San Diego Zoo and the San Diego Zoo Safari Park reopening—including yearly membership options and important information for guests planning their next visit—go to To help maintain San Diego Zoo Global’s mission-based programs that save species around the world, go to or Those wishing to help via traditional mail can send a donation of any amount to San Diego Zoo Global, P.O. Box 120551, San Diego, CA 92112.

Bringing species back from the brink of extinction is the goal of San Diego Zoo Global. As a leader in conservation, the work of San Diego Zoo Global includes on-site wildlife conservation efforts (representing both plants and animals) at the San Diego Zoo, San Diego Zoo Safari Park and San Diego Zoo Institute for Conservation Research, as well as international field programs on six continents. The work of these entities is made accessible to over 1 billion people annually, reaching 150 countries via social media, our websites and the San Diego Zoo Kids network, in children’s hospitals in 12 countries. The work of San Diego Zoo Global is made possible with support from our incredible donors committed to saving species from the brink of extinction.