KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — The smell of sunscreen wafting through the air is a welcome scent to Zoo Knoxville's CEO Lisa New.
The zoo reopened its splash pads Wednesday as it enters Phase Two of its reopening plan.
"We see people here today with their beach towels and the smell of sunscreen all through the park. Hopefully, it's slowly at some sense of normalcy that we're getting back to here," New said.
Aside from a couple of narrow trails, most of the one-way markers have been removed, and guests can now walk throughout the park in any direction.
The zoo also resumed its giraffe feeding experience. While masks are not required to enter the park, they are needed to feed the animals.
"There are three entities, so to speak, whose safety is very important to us. That is our team members, our animals and our guests. Because giraffe feeding puts all three of those in close proximity, we want to be sure that we're being as safe as we can for each other," New said.
To help visitors beat the heat, and in an attempt to spread guests out throughout the day, the zoo will extend its hours Thursdays until 8 p.m. New said it's a new program they're testing out.