WICHITA FALLS (KFDX/KJTL) — After Gov. Greg Abbott, R–Texas, launched phase two of his plan to reopen Texas, many businesses are slowly opening back up, and among the ones still shut down for the time being are zoos.
At MTH Ranch and Zoo just outside of Iowa Park, owner Tracy Hyden has been anxiously waiting for the green light to be able to open back up to the public.
“We had planned on being open on weekends, just open to the public to come out whereas last year we were reservation only,” Hyden said. “We’re not going to be able to do that and stay within guidelines of social distancing.”
Instead, Hyden plans to open up to private parties and small group reservations and stagger the groups throughout the zoo.
“We’ll encourage people to wear face masks, our staff will wear face masks, our staff and volunteers will wear a face mask. We’ll have it marked six feet throughout the zoo so people will have an idea of how far away they should be,” Hyden said.
Hyden said although they have been closed, the time off has given them time to add to the zoo.
“We’ve done a lot more construction than we had originally planned; we’ve been able to build a few pens,” Hyden said. “We’re in the process of upgrading a couple of pens, Rickety, our crab-eating raccoon, that everybody loves so much is getting a second story.”
While it’s been tough to feed all of these animals, Hyden said that’s where the community support comes in.
“We’ve had a lot of people call and offer to donate stuff that they don’t use anymore or ask if we need them to buy us food and right now we’re doing just fine,” Hyden said.
Until this COVID crisis comes to an end, Hyden will be hard at work adding to her “dream come true.”
Hyden said one thing they have trouble finding is hand sanitizer and said they can always use more volunteers.
To make a donation or volunteer call 940-733-6621.