WEST ORANGE, NJ — Turtle Back Zoo at the Essex County South Mountain Recreation Complex will reopen on Thursday, June 18, the county announced on Monday.

There will be no on-site ticket sales, however. Visitors must purchase tickets in advance at www.turtlebackzoo.com. Procedures are being implemented to ensure social distancing among visitors and sanitize all equipment.

“Operations at Turtle Back Zoo did not cease during the pandemic," Essex County Executive Joseph N. DiVincenzo, Jr. said. "Our keepers continued to provide the highest level of care for our animals, and staff made sure the facility remained well-maintained. We are pleased to be able to reopen Turtle Back just as the school year is ending and people are getting back out and looking for things to do."

Sign Up for West Orange Newsletter
Our newsletter delivers the local news that you can trust.

Visitors to Turtle Back Zoo will be required wear face coverings and to practice social distancing.

"We want everyone to be able to enjoy our open spaces and recreation activities while they remain safe and do their part to prevent the spread of the coronavirus,” DiVincenzo said.

Operating hours for Turtle Back Zoo are 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. daily. A maximum of 3,200 will be admitted per day; admission will be at staggered times throughout the day. Visitors must wear face coverings and, before entering, have their temperature screened. If a person has a temperature higher than 100 degrees, they will be asked to wait 15 minutes before their temperature is screened again. While walking along the paths, visitors are asked to practice social distancing.

The miniature train ride will be open. Additional cleaning and sanitizing procedures have been put in place. The touch tank building will be open for viewing only; visitors will not be able to place their hands in the pool to touch the sting rays. The Carousel, aviary at the Outback Adventure, giraffe feeding and pony rides will not be available. The Savannah Café will be open with a limited menu and for outdoor dining only.

Also open at the South Mountain Recreation Complex are paddle boating on the Orange Reservoir, the Treetop Adventure and mini-golf safari. Online tickets for the Treetop Adventure must be purchased in advance.