The Jurupa Mountains Discovery Center, a mostly outdoor facility featuring earth science activities for children in Jurupa Valley, is reopening this weekend after a seven-month closure because of COVID-19 restrictions.
Not only is executive director Wes Andree excited to reopen the non-profit organization for children and families, but to get the needed cash flow back into an operation decimated by lack of income during the pandemic.
“We do have an endowment that was established by the founders, and we had to dip into that just to keep things moving,” said Andree. “We’re just happy to have people back and coming in.”
The 82-acre facility features animal exhibits, an indoor gift shop, outdoor learning centers and gardens, and exhibits where children and parents can dig for a dinosaur fossils and minerals.
As about half a dozen employees scramble to prepare for reopening, they are also preparing hand-sanitizer stations and installing plastic barriers at cash registers. They’ve also repositioned large fans to keep the air flowing in the indoor gift shop and “critter corner.”
“The inside area we had to do a little bit of thinking,” said Andree. “The fans we had (originally) set up to draw air in to cool off the gift shop and circulate the air, but now we have reversed the fans so we’re pushing the air out.”
Many of the individual activities range in price from $9 to $12.50 per person. Unfortunately, Andree said for the first time they are also charging a $10 admission fee because of all the money they didn’t bring in during the closure.
“We’re a little nervous about that, but we’re hoping people are understanding. We just couldn’t afford to do it any other way,” he said.
Even though the Jurupa Mountains Discovery Center has been closed to the public since mid-March, employees have been on site ever since taking care of the various animals.
“Those all need daily care, they need food and water, and to be socialized, picked up and handled, so that they stay friendly,” said Andree. “We spend several hundred dollars a week every week, just to be able to feed them.”
The facility will be open Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays from 9 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. According to their website, masks over nose and mouth are required, as is social distancing.