Meet Gatorland's Skunk Ape, the social distancing mascot

Meet Gatorland’s Skunk Ape, the social distancing mascot

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(CNN) — Depart it to a Florida vacation spot to give you one of many weirdest — and most joyous methods — to assist folks hold their social distance.
The oldsters at Gatorland have launched Skunk Ape. And this mascot’s intention is to assist the animal park’s guests get a bit of kick out of sustaining social distancing.
The park, which reopened on Saturday in Orange County, has a video on YouTube introducing Social Distancing Skunk Ape (his full, correct title).
And so they clarify a few of their coronavirus measures in one of the vital imaginative security efforts that CNN Journey has run throughout through the pandemic.

‘Enjoyable and security’

The video truly opens with a vivacious, pig-tailed, hat-wearin’ spokeswoman who says the park’s objective is “enjoyable and security.”

She then makes enthusiastic use of a hand sanitizer station, calling it “hanitizer,” and factors out a security signal “that claims a bunch of stuff.”

Subsequent, she awkwardly however endearingly introduces the “king of conserving away from one another, the Social Distancing Skunk Ape.”

At this level, the digicam pans to what seems to be Bigfoot sort creature lurking in dense Florida foliage. Skunk Ape then disappears within the greenery, solely to emerge later breaking apart two males who strolling too intently collectively. The transfer is one thing The Three Stooges might recognize.

The spokeswoman’s touch upon the melee: “He is insistent that you simply keep distant!” And that is only the start of her rhyming reminders.

The video even includes a notable bathroom flush and an look by Skunk Ape and the spokeswoman in a males’s restroom.

Like we mentioned, very Florida!

Origins story

Follow safety protocols at Gatorland -- Social Distancing Skunk Ape has his eyes on you!

Observe security protocols at Gatorland — Social Distancing Skunk Ape has his eyes on you!


Mark McHugh, president and CEO of Gatorland, instructed CNN Journey in an e mail interview how Skunk Ape got here to be.

“We developed a Skunk Ape character and costume for our Halloween program final 12 months. A neighborhood morning radio present persona, Carlos Navarro, with Actual Radio 104.1, was speaking about every little thing we have been doing at Gatorland for security, and instructed we use a Social Distancing Skunk Ape.

“My social media director, Savannah Boan, and I checked out one another with vast eyes and mentioned, ‘THAT’S IT!’ We started instantly creating a marketing campaign round this bushy fella.”

Gatorland plans to maintain Skunk Ape round.

“The Skunk Ape is a part of our Gatorland household, and he might be with us for a few years,” McHugh mentioned. “His function as Covid-19 security supervisor will lengthen at the least by the summer season. He is all the time attempting to advance up the company ladder.”

How are park guests reacting to him?

They “are usually not certain what to think about him. For one factor, he is fairly bushy, grunts lots and takes his job a bit critically,” McHugh mentioned.

“Plus, of us are usually not used to companies taking a light-hearted method to implementing essential security measures, so it takes a minute or two for visitors to comprehend we’re having enjoyable.”

CNN Journey wished to know a bit of extra concerning the man contained in the costume:

“Proper now, we’ve got one particular person, John Michael Carro, who’s the son of my inventive director, Dan Carro.

“John Michael is spectacular on the function, and we give him frequent breaks, ice packs beneath the swimsuit and plenty of water. He’ll in all probability lose 10 to 15 kilos this summer season.”

A critical security message, too

Behind the Skunk Ape marketing campaign lies a critical security message. Gatorland has posted its security efforts on-line, they usually embody:

— All queues have been marked for distancing from admissions and rides to reveals and meals venues.

— Capacities on rides and elsewhere have have diminished.

— Workers get a temperature test earlier than work and should put on face masks. Friends are “inspired” to put on face coverings as nicely.

— Rides, present seating and different surfaces are disinfected after every use.

“We’re very critical about security, and we’ve got applied an amazing quantity of bodily and operational modifications to make sure the protection of our visitors and workers,” McHugh mentioned.

“However folks need to get away from the fixed reminders of face masks, social distancing and sanitizers. So, whereas every little thing is working within the background to maintain folks secure, the Social Distancing Skunk Ape is fulfilling our mission of making enjoyable,” he mentioned.

Different points of interest within the space

Disney Springs in Florida opened this week with strong safety measures in place.

Disney Springs in Florida opened this week with robust security measures in place.

John Raoux/AP

Walt Disney World’s Disney Springs and Common Orlando’s CityWalk — each procuring, eating and leisure complexes — have just lately reopened with stringent security efforts.

These embody limits of the variety of folks allowed in, social distancing indicators and floor markers and plenty of hand sanitizing stations.

Common Orlando introduced on Friday that it plans to open to most people on June 5. Friends might be required to put on a face masking throughout their go to. The park will present masks if the guests do not deliver one in every of their very own.