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Central Japan zoo partially reopens with reservation system to avoid crowds

Visitors observe Shabani the gorilla on display at Higashiyama Zoo and Botanical Gardens in Nagoya's Chikusa Ward, which partially reopened on May 28. (Mainichi/Koji Hyodo)

NAGOYA -- People flocked to a popular zoo in this central Japan city on May 28 as the facility began to welcome visitors with reservations after remaining closed for around 50 days due to the novel coronavirus pandemic.

The Higashiyama Zoo and Botanical Gardens, located in Nagoya's Chikusa Ward, had been closed since April 10. It plans to have its full-scale reopening on June 2.

Among the visitors on May 28 was a 2-year-old girl from Nagoya's Meito Ward. "I came to see the monkeys. I'm having fun," she said with a smile. Her 28-year-old mother, who said the family had visited the zoo multiple times, commented, "We made reservations to come here and have fun for the first time in a while. It's not crowded, and it's perfect. I hope things return to normal as soon as possible."

The zoo has introduced an online system for reserving tickets ahead of visits, to prevent crowds of people coming to the area, but around 50 people formed a line before the facility opened at 9 a.m. The zoo will allow about 5,000 visitors per day to enter the zoo for the meantime. On the first day, 4,500 people had made reservations as of 9:30 a.m.

Kaoru Mizutani, head of Higashiyama Park, which operates the zoo, said, "We wanted to open our doors again as soon as possible. Today we are rejoicing along with visitors about the reopening."

(Japanese original by Masakatsu Oka, Nagoya News Center)

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