Michigan animal park to open despite Whitmer's order

The Detroit News

A wild animal park near Grand Rapids plans to open Friday despite Gov. Gretchen Whitmer's emergency order closing most public places because of the COVID-19 outbreak.

According to a posting on its Facebook page, Boulder Ridge Wild Animal Park in Alto will open for the season at 10 a.m. "We will have several guidelines in place to make sure everyone stays safe and has fun at the zoo and will announce those details as we get closer to the 15th," the park said in its post last week.

A zebra at the Boulder Ridge Wild Animal Park, which plans to open Friday.

In a post Monday afternoon, the park said, "We have been busy preparing for our season opening this Friday and are trying to respond to all the questions but, as you know, there are a lot of them...We will put out a post with all the answers as soon as we can."

Park manager Joshua Baker said staff will be busy cleaning and taking other precautions to ensure visitor safety, according to WOOD-TV in Grand Rapids. “We’re just trying to maintain income," Baker told the TV station. "We got staff to pay, we have bills to pay yet, as does everyone else. It’s a struggle for all of us. As long as there’s no issues, we’re hoping everything will go smoothly and we’ll open up just fine.”

Whitmer's order does not specifically mention zoos or animal parks but states, "No person or entity shall operate a business or conduct operations that require workers to leave their homes or places of residence except to the extent that those workers are necessary to sustain or protect life or to conduct minimum basic operations."

It continues: "For purposes of this order, workers who are necessary to conduct minimum basic operations are those whose in-person presence is strictly necessary to allow the business or operation to maintain the value of inventory and equipment, care for animals, ensure security, process transactions (including payroll and employee benefits), or facilitate the ability of other workers to work remotely."