With warmer weather and spring break for many Fort Worth schools, the Fort Worth Zoo is preparing for increased attendance with additional staff and parking lots and hiring Fort Worth Police officers.
Fort Worth Zoo Communications Director Alexis Wilson said the zoo once again has an “extremely well-coordinated plan” that will get people into parking lots and the zoo “in an orderly fashion.”
“Most people arrive at the front of the zoo to find short ticket lines and quick entry,” Wilson said.
Fort Worth officer Mario Cabello said that there are 10 to 14 officers helping to control traffic and set up cones. The zoo is providing extra lots for parking around the zoo and across University.
Fort Worth resident Jessica Lockhart went to the zoo this week because her sons were on spring break and wanted to see the giraffes and the new baby gorilla “Gus.” She said she had to wait about 10 minutes in traffic and park further away than she usually does.
“Traffic was a little hectic but it was to be expected since it’s spring break,” Lockhart said. “They were definitely prepared for the crowd.”
The City of Fort Worth also made an effort to prepare for the crowd releasing a statement warning people to “be prepared for long waits at intersections as you approach the zoo.”
The statement also told people about the Fort Worth Transportation Authority Safari Shuttle. The shuttle stops at Bus Bay 5 A, adjacent to the Trinity Railway Express platform at the Intermodal Transportation Center on Jones Street, and the zoo’s main entrance on Colonial Parkway. Transportation Authority Communications Manager Laura Hanna said the shuttle is there to “help ease traffic during a very busy time.”
“Our Safari Shuttle uses a back-door route that avoids much of the traffic congestion,” Hanna said. “Our passengers won’t need to pay for parking at the zoo – or spend time looking for a parking space.”
The shuttle cost $3.50 for adults and $1.75 for children under 18 and seniors who are 65 and older if they have their reduced ID card. It is free for children age five and younger. The first shuttle leaves the ITC at 9:30 a.m. and the last shuttle leaves the zoo at 6 p.m. They run every 30 minutes, Hanna said.
The zoo also has plans to handle the increase in attendance inside the zoo. Wilson said the zoo added more food locations and restroom facilities in the zoo, as well as extra staff members stationed throughout the zoo to assist guests.
Oklahoma resident Anna Hudson traveled down to Fort Worth because she said she wanted to see if “the zoo is as great as everyone says it is.” Hudson said she didn’t have any trouble parking, despite hearing from other people that it would be difficult. Although she was confused about where to park, she said that she was able to ask people to figure it out.
“I maybe waited about five minutes,” Hudson said. “For this amount of people they are handling it really well.”
The city warned that the traffic around the zoo could be the worst Wednesday when the zoo offers half-priced admission.