Elmvale Zoo welcomes customers back for new season

The Elmvale Zoo reopened for the season on the May long-weekend (Steve Mansbridge/CTV News Barrie)

After limited operations over the last two seasons, the Elmvale Zoo has reopened, with most COVID-19 restrictions eliminated.

The popular zoo kicked off its 55th season on Saturday. While guests had to reserve a spot in advance last year, that restriction has been eliminated for this year, with zoo staff excited to welcome back new and familiar faces.

"It's incredible. The kids love coming here," says Jenna McIntosh, the senior zookeeper. "They are able to feed the animals with our buckets. They are even able to see some animals up close and be able to touch them now that restrictions are out of the way."

While it first started with just two acres, the zoo operates on approximately 30 acres of land, with 25 of those untouched for the animals' natural environment. There are more than 400 animals on site, with a few new faces this year.

"So we have lots of new animals that have joined our family here," says McIntosh. "We have our baby gibbon…she is four months old. We also have baby lemurs, and we have our giraffe Dudley that you'll be able to see along the paths."

The zoo will be open seven days a week through to the Labour Day weekend, with staff hoping they see a return to the pre-pandemic volume of customers.