190804-nrr-dreamnights-03 (copy)

Wildlife Safari Village Lead Keeper Sara Healas feeds a cashew snack to prehensile tail porcupine Bronik during the Wildlife Safari’s Dreamnight event in Winston last summer. The 600-acre animal park will close under the latest recommendations from Gov. Kate Brown to Oregonians to stay home in an attempt to curb the spread of the coronavirus.

Wildlife Safari, the 600-acre animal park in Winston, will close to the public following the latest guidance from state officials asking people to stay indoors.

The announcement to close the park was made just after 8 p.m. Friday.

Jacob Schleuter, marketing director for Wildlife Safari, said the drive-thru safari will be open Saturday for people who visit, but all other parts of the park will be closed.

“Our intent was to remain open until we can’t,” Schleuter said.

The final decision to close came during Brown’s press conference on Friday.

Brown urged the public to stay home to curtail the spread of the coronavirus. The governor is still working out details with other elected leaders this weekend about a statewide order directing Oregonians to “Stay Home and Stay Healthy” to slow the spread of the coronavirus.

But the animal park decided to embrace the governor’s recommendations.

The park employs about 110 people, 70 of whom work with animals and are expected to remain employed. Several other staff members will also continue working to answer any questions from the public.

Schleuter said Wildlife Safari had seen an uptick in numbers since a school closure went into effect March 16, and was proud of its unique ability to offer an environment in which safe distancing is practiced.

The closure is indefinite, but the park is expected to reopen in the future.

Sanne Godfrey can be reached at sgodfrey@nrtoday.com or 541-957-4203. Follow her on Twitter @sannegodfrey.

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