‘The animals actually seem to miss people’ Oatland Island back open to public

Local News

SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV)- Oatland Island is officially back open to the public. Visitors must make a reservation beforehand.

The wildlife center closed its gates back in March when the pandemic first hit. Savannah-Chatham County Public School System is the overlying agency and tells News 3 the center was closed so long out of an abundance of caution.

They say they are following the guidelines put out by the health department.

“Our lobby is closed except for the gift shop, and the restrooms we have down at the barnyard are the restrooms that are available,” said Heather Merbs, Oatland Island Director. “To enter the gift shop we require masks and a temperature check.”

The center first opened to members on Thursday, and Monday was the first time being open to the public.

Merbs says life hasn’t changed a whole lot for the animals, but some tend to get lonely.

“Some of the animals actually seem to miss people,” said Merbs. “The cougar was excited to see people again on Thursday and the wolves appear to be as well.”

Signage posted all around Oatland Island reminds visitors to social distance along the trails and near exhibits.

Merbs says the staff is good at adjusting to changes and all of them have been able to keep their jobs.

“It’s very strange to not have guests here, but unfortunately we are a little bit use to it because of our tornado two years ago,” said Merbs.”We were closed for a good bit as well, so of course we do not enjoy being closed.”

Merbs says they are allowing 20 people in every half hour to allow distance and every visitor is strongly encouraged to bring bug spray.

Merbs says they have made walkway and exhibit improvements since the shutdown. If you’d like to learn more or make a reservation click here.

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