How Quarantine Has Affected Zoos

By: Kaira Lai

These Atlanta Humane Society kittens pose in front of a fishtank in Georgia aquarium during their field trip.

In 2019, 385,000 people visited the Uganda Zoo, but the numbers began dwindling during the COVID-19 quarantine. Initially, the quarantine lockdown was supposed to last 14 days but was extended for three weeks on April 14, which caused a problem as the zoo runs entirely on cash from visitors. One baby elephant named Nyakato, has a diet that costs $1,900 per month. The zoo is home to 280 animals including birds, primates, reptiles, and large mammals. Hoping to attract supporters, the centre has created “virtual tours” on Facebook, but not many people are attending these virtual tours.

Some zoos are not so lucky with dealing with financial problems. In northern Germany, a zoo warned the press that they might have to feed animals to each other if funding dried up.

In Paradise Park Zoo in Cornwall, England, four zookeepers decided to quarantine themselves inside the zoo to help keep their animals fed. For 3 months, these zookeepers have attempted to keep the animals’ routines as normal as possible. This includes pretending to be visitors in front of certain enclosures. “We’re all really enjoying it, but obviously we’re missing our families quite a lot, but it’s really nice having our work family all here together,” one of the zookeepers said. Although the zookeepers are giving up family time to help these animals, they are satisfied with the sacrifice.

Other zoos around the world are trying to maintain “visitors” but they are limited to essential staff only. Some caretakers take certain animals on “field trips” to meet other animals. In the Mystic Aquarium in Mystic, Connecticut, a sea lion floats at eye level with a tegu, a large species of lizard, on the other side of its glass tank. The Atlanta Humane Society took kittens and puppies to visit jellyfish at the Georgia Aquarium. 

In Ocean Park, Hong Kong, two pandas, Ying Ying and Le Le, finally mated after 10 years of attempts at natural mating. “Since late March, Ying Ying began spending more time playing in the water, while Le Le has been leaving scent-markings around his habitat and searching the area for Ying Ying’s scent,” reads the press release. Although humans are on lockdown, the animals seem to like this privacy of no humans visiting all day. This goes to show that there can be good in the midst of this Coronavirus.

 

Bibliography

https://www.ctvnews.ca/sci-tech/pandas-at-empty-zoo-under-quarantine-mate-after-10-years-together-1.4886024

https://www.smithsonianmag.com/smart-news/animals-are-taking-adorable-field-trips-during-quarantine-1-180974651/

https://www.insider.com/zookeepers-moved-into-zoo-for-3-months-to-quarantine-with-animals

 

https://www.reuters.com/article/us-health-coronavirus-uganda-wildlife/fears-for-ugandas-zoo-animals-as-cash-dwindles-in-coronavirus-lockdown-idUSKCN2251HM

 

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