BARRIE, ONT -- Elmvale Zoo reopened its doors Saturday after months of being locked down.

Like many business owners across Simcoe-Muskoka allowed to reopen on Friday, the owners and staff of the family-owned zoo are elated.

Staff say similar excitement has extended to the public.

"When we announced that we would be opening our doors on June 12, within 24 hours, we received 3000 reservations," says owner Michel Persi. "Our system was overwhelmed, but we're just amazed, just the support and everyone coming together to help us take care of our beautiful zoo family. We really appreciate it."

Like last year, numerous safety protocols are in place, including mandatory pre-booking online to limit capacity. Additionally, masks are only required at the entrance, washrooms and exits, but not throughout the zoo.

Staff say that the pandemic has posed specific challenges.

"It's been extremely tough," says manager Michel Persi. "Last year, we were only allowed to have 30 percent capacity, no gift shop, no snack bar. So it was really hard on us."

Despite the limitations, last season still brought an overwhelming amount of interest from the public seeking family-friendly entertainment. So much so that the owners say that they were booked up two years in advance.

To book your online reservation, click here.