Detroit Zoo changes position, decides to close amid outbreak

Tony Paul
The Detroit News

The Detroit Zoo announced Monday that it's temporarily closing after earlier explaining why it was staying open with a few modifications for visitors during the coronavirus pandemic.

The zoo said on Facebook it will close through the end of March. 

"We will continue to monitor developments on an hourly basis to assess how to move forward," the post said.

Reticulated giraffes Jabari, left, a male, and Kivuli, a female, stand together in their habitat at the Detroit Zoo.

The closure came after Gov. Gretchen Whitmer signed a wide-ranging executive order to stem the spread of the virus, closing places where people gather, including restaurants, bars, cafes, movie theaters, exercise facilities and casinos by 3 p.m. Monday.

As of Monday evening, Michigan reported 54 positive cases of the virus.

Earlier Monday, the zoo explained why it was planning to stay open and keep regular hours, saying it was a "very large and open outdoor space that spans 125 acres." It had said health precautions were being taken, including closing off indoor facilities and installing extra hand-sanitizing stations. The zoo also said it was limiting capacity to 1,250 guests at one time.

The CDC has not yet found evidence of any animals being carriers of coronavirus.

The Detroit Zoological Society also operates the Belle Isle Nature Center, which is closed through April.

Twitter: @tonypaul1984