NEW BEDFORD — The Buttonwood Park Zoo assures that anyone wishing to pay cash for admission will be permitted to do so after concerns arose Wednesday morning that tickets could only be sold online – which is still the preferred method of paying for admission, the zoo says, but not the only method.

“If a patron arrives at the Zoo without tickets, we accommodate them, regardless of payment method, if there is capacity in the Zoo in keeping with the state’s required capacity limits,” Sarah Henry, Development and Marketing Officer for the Buttonwood Park Zoological Society, said in response to an email from WBSM News. “If anyone has been turned away from entering the Zoo not due to capacity limits but because of type of payment, it was done so in error and not in keeping with our policy.”

Henry said the capacity limits are the reason why the zoo would prefer that visitors do purchase the tickets online in advance of their visit, “to help ensure a speedy entry into the Zoo so the Zoo can abide by state-mandated contract tracing and capacity limits,” she said.

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A source told WBSM’s Barry Richard that they had attempted to pay cash at the zoo this morning but were told tickets could only be purchased online. The BPZoo.org website also stated tickets could only be purchased online, including stating on the “Plan Your Visit” page that “there will be no cash handling onsite, all transactions will require credit cards and/or advanced online purchases.”

According to a tweet sent out by Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey in April of 2020, “It’s illegal to refuse cash in Massachusetts. Businesses should take thoughtful measures to keep their employees and consumers safe, but let's keep our economy open to everyone.”


 

Healey was referring to a state law that declares, “No retail establishment offering goods and services for sale shall discriminate against a cash buyer by requiring the use of credit by a buyer in order to purchase such goods and services. All such retail establishments must accept legal tender when offered as payment by the buyer.”

Following questions to the zoo and Mayor Jon Mitchell’s office from both Richard and WBSM News, the zoo’s website was updated with new wording regarding ticket sales.

“Due to the state requirement for contact tracing and capacity limits for the Zoo, online pre-registration and advanced ticket sales are strongly encouraged. Anyone who wishes to pay with cash upon arrival will need to provide contact tracing information and will be admitted into the Zoo assuming capacity limits have not been exceeded,” it reads.

Henry said that the change had been made this morning “as it was not reflecting our current policy,” and that it would be communicated to those working the zoo entrance.

“We will ensure the front gate is aware and that they are accommodating all guests, regardless of payment type,” she said.

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