Orlando's Gatorland attraction, closed since March due to the coronavirus, is doing much more than hoping guests follow social distancing recommendations when the park reopens.
That's why they've released a "Social Distancing Skunk Ape" to show that getting too close to other people right now really stinks.The park hasn't announced a reopening date yet, but says it's happening "very soon," once state and local authorities give the go-ahead. Last week, Gatorland released an extensive list of ways they plan to enforce safety measures when they are allowed to welcome members of the public again.
The Skunk Ape brings a new, hilariously extreme level of enforcement, at a time when rules are sometimes ignored.
Gatorland has been keeping Central Florida entertained online with their "School of Croc" video series on Facebook and their YouTube show, "Gatorland Vlogs." Viewers will recognize the Ape from some earlier appearances, where he interacts with Gatorland video host Savannah Boan.
"The Florida Cryptid knows all about keeping away from others and is perfect for the job," said Gatorland in a press release. "He tends to be more elusive than his cousin, Bigfoot, is 'insistent that you stay distant,' and reminds guests to stay six feet apart."
He's also a germaphobe, and will help guests remember to wash and sanitize their hands regularly.
"He won't get mean if your hands stay clean!" shouts Savannah in the video. This ape means business, and that's a lot better than hoping other tourists will heed the rules on their own.
"Skunk Ape is uniquely qualified on keeping people apart," says Mark McHugh, Gatorland’s president and CEO. "We have kids who watch 'School of Croc' calling Skunk Ape their hero."
And yes, there's already a T-shirt for sale in the gift shop. Check out Gatorland's website for the latest on when they're reopening, and how they are planning to keep returning attendees safe.
Maybe they'll do a Mask Macaque next, so people remember to cover their mouth and nose while in public. One can only hope!
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