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One of the most popular animals at the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo is the giraffes at the African Rift Valley exhibit. The Cheyenne Mountain Zoo  temporarily closed on March 17 because of the COVID-19 virus pandemic. (Photo by Jerilee Bennett, The Gazette)

After being closed due to COVID-19 concerns for nearly three months, the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo will begin a phased reopening Saturday, the zoo announced Friday night.

From Saturday through Wednesday, the zoo will be open to members only. Members must log in and reserve their free tickets in advance online.

The zoo will open to general public, as well as members, starting Thursday. Visitors will be required to reserve or purchase tickets in advance online.

There will be limited number of advance tickets available each hour, and spaces and activities that would prevent physical distancing and frequent sanitization of high-touch areas have been closed, the zoo said.

Guests are strongly encouraged to wear masks, which will also be required for staff who work within 6 feet of others and in guest areas.

A variance request to open the zoo, submitted to the state last month, was approved by Gov. Jared Polis and Colorado Department of Public Health & Environment Friday night, the zoo said.

The variance, or waiver from the state's Safer at Home order, is in effect for the next two weeks, until June 19. Operations at the zoo could change after that date and visitors are encouraged to check back with the zoo at that time. 

For more details, or to purchase tickets, go to www.cmzoo.org/open.

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