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ABQ BioPark begins phased reopening

A swallowtail butterfly perches on a butterfly bush at the ABQ BioPark Botanic Garden. The gardens are reopening Tuesday to members of the New Mexico BioPark Society, and to the general public beginning June 9. (Jim Thompson/Albuquerque Journal)

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — The ABQ BioPark is beginning a phased-in reopening Tuesday by allowing members of the New Mexico BioPark Society access to the Botanic Garden.

The general public will get access to the Botanic Garden and Tingley Beach starting June 9, but the number of visitors will be limited.

The zoo and the aquarium will remain closed for the time being, pending the lifting of the governor’s restrictions, Paul Garver, ABQ BioPark guest services manager, said Monday.

“We’ve been anticipating for a number of weeks the opportunity to reopen the BioPark and welcome guests back, but of course our plans have to align with the state’s overall reopening plans,” he said.bright spot

All visitors, including BioPark Society members, must reserve advance tickets online at

Timed ticketing is intended to promote social distancing, and visitors will have a 30-minute window to arrive for their scheduled visit to the Botanic Garden, although there is no limit on how long they can stay. Visitors generally stay about two hours, Garver said.

“We need to manage occupancy so that we are no higher than 20-25% capacity, which allows for social distancing to be in place,” he said.

Face masks must also be worn. “It is currently a state requirement, but beyond that, we are a public facility and want to protect the public, as well as staff and volunteers, and ultimately, when the zoo reopens, to protect our animal population because there is evidence of human to animal transmission,” Garver said.

While tickets are not required to visit Tingley Beach, security will be present to limit the number of visitors, Garver added.

In related BioPark news, two giraffes were recently transferred to the Honolulu Zoo as part of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums Species Survival Plan.

Neelix, a 16-month-old male, and Sandi, a 10-month-old female, were transported in specially designed crates aboard a Pacific Air Cargo plane, and upon landing received police escorts to their new home.

Reticulated giraffes are listed as an endangered species on the Red List compiled by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature.

The ABQ BioPark Zoo has four remaining reticulated giraffes.

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