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Micke Grove Zoo open with COVID protocols
zoo visit
Karen Wise hoists up her grandson Atticus to observe one of zoo animals at Micke Grove this past weekend.

Karen Wise had her usual weekend task of babysitting her two young grandchildren.

It was a nice clear day and the fifty something-year-old grandmother thought why not Micke Grove Zoo for an outing.

The only question was whether or not the zoo was open given the COVID-19 pandemic.

A quick online check of the San Joaquin County park in Lodi indicated 'yes' but with a few health and safety guidelines — a maximum of 75 guests at one time to ensure proper social distancing with masks being required, and easy-to-find hand sanitizing stations to help maintain robust cleaning routines.

With that, Wise piled in 2-year-old Atticus and his even younger sister Agatha into the Chevy Suburban to the home of over 170 individual animals representing over 51 species.

Included are a variety of mammals, reptiles, birds, amphibians and invertebrates, representing six of the world's seven continents.

Wise, who has made a living over the past two decades of teaching young children, knew the zoo would be the perfect place to engage her grandson. The baby Agatha was there for the ride — she'll get her turn again in the coming years.

Micke Grove offers a nice small zoo committed to housing and displaying animals appropriate for the size and scope of the facility.

Wise remembered coming to this zoo in her youth.  

Micke Grove Zoo has been around for over 60 years and has gone through its share of changes over time.

"I used to enjoy watching the seals but would feel sorry for the bear," said Wise of the former zoo occupants.

She and her grandchildren had to wait in line for about a half hour upon their arrival so the zoo would not exceed their mandated pandemic capacity. Cost to enter the park is $10 per vehicle not counting the zoo — that's another $5 for adults (children age 3 and under are free).

But it's these first-time memories that are priceless.

Moments such as young Atticus perched atop of grandmother's shoulders, pointing at the ring-tailed lemur in the Madagascar exhibit.

Children with their parents trying to spot small primates such as tamarins or birds from Mediterranean climates.

The zoo is also home to a variety of animals native to California, including the golden eagle.

The zoo located midway between Lodi and Stockton is open Wednesday through Sunday from 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. The last entrance is at 4 p.m.