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City of Abilene keeping zoo open despite Governor’s orders to stay closed until May 29



The Abilene Zoo is open for Memorial Day weekend, but according to Governor Greg Abbott — it should not be open until May 29.

The City of Abilene made the decision to reopen the zoo on May 18.

During the two months the zoo was closed due to COVID-19, it lost $800,000 in revenue.

When the Abilene Zoo reopened Monday, visitors flocked to see the animals in outdoor enclosures.

Indoor exhibits, like the reptile house have been closed for the time being.

Besides the world’s largest rodent making its debut this week, new additions to the zoo include tape — meant to keep social distancing line lines — and a sign at the entrance asking people who are sick to not enter the zoo.

On the same day the zoo welcomed visitors, Governor Abbott announced plans for phase two of reopening Texas.

A long list of businesses opened their doors on May 22, including aquariums and natural caverns — which can operate at 25-percent capacity.

On the Governor’s Strike Force to Open Texas website, zoos are also listed to open on May 22 — but if you read the fine print, they are not allowed to open until May 29.

The Abilene Zoo reopened on May 18, which is before both the dates listed.

KTXS asked City Manager Robert Hanna why the City made the decision to reopen the zoo before the Governor’s official announcement.

In a statement, Hanna said Governor Abbott’s executive order for Phase One seemed to allow local governments to make decisions on their own facilities.

Since the Abilene Zoo is a city facility, and it was not mentioned in Phase One, the city decided to reopen.

Abilene City Manager Robert Hanna’s response to why the city has not closed the Abilene Zoo.

The Abilene Zoo is funded by taxpayers.

Hanna told KTXS that since the zoo can be visited in a health and safe way, it should be open to those who help fund it.

KTXS asked Hanna if the City planned to keep the zoo open despite the Governor’s directive to not reopen zoos until May 29.

In his reply, Hanna said “that’s correct.”