CBS News The wonder of life is on display on the cheetah cam, where echo just gave birth to four healthy cubs. There's an unusual take on the wonder of motherhood with a wallaby joey who spends most of his time in his mother's pouch. Redd, a 3-year-old orangutan, and his mom are a bit more outgoing on the high wire.
And this being spring, the wonder of love has infected many animals here, including the flamingos, who are doing a synchronized mating dance. Then we can all join Alice, the National Zoo's dancing crane, in jumping for joy.
“The spread of the coronavirus is projected to continue to increase in the coming weeks, both locally and nationally,” the museum said in its statement. As of Thursday, there are more than 11 million reported Covid-19 cases throughout the United States and over 251,000 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University data.
We, of course, remain committed to providing around-the-clock care for the remarkable wildlife at the Zoo and Safari Park during this time. As a nonprofit organization relying upon your generosity to fulfill our mission of saving the world’s wildlife, your support will continue to fuel our conservation efforts around the globe to save, protect, and care for endangered species every day.
Because of some exciting changes coming in 2021, the annual calendar issue of the magazine will not be mailed in January this year. We look forward to welcoming our valued guests back to the San Diego Zoo and Safari Park soon.
We understand the Zoo and Safari Park are extraordinary places that play an important role in all our lives. As a special member of our family, memberships active on the date of closure, December 7, 2020, will be extended to accommodate the length of time we are closed.
Is San Diego Zoo Global doing anything to protect staff members, guests, and animals during the COVID-19 pandemic? At San Diego Zoo Global, the safety of our guests, staff members, volunteers, and wildlife is, and always will be, our highest priority.
We recognize the gravity of the ever-changing COVID-19 situation and are working to do our part to protect the health and welfare of our community and the wildlife in our care. We will monitor the ever-changing situation while maintaining close contact with government authorities, and we will provide additional communication when current conditions change.
At this time, there is no evidence to suggest that any animal, including pet cats or dogs or livestock, can spread COVID-19 to people. San Diego Zoo Global has always maintained high levels of biosecurity for wildlife in our care, especially for high-risk species such as non-human primates that are likely susceptible to diseases that affect humans.
Already in practice are measures that include restricting access to the species and wearing of protective gear by wildlife care specialists. In an excess of caution, San Diego Zoo Global is adding extra biosecurity measures in working with all mammals.
These heightened biosecurity measures include: maintaining social distancing (six feet) between people and susceptible species wherever possible, the wearing of cloth facial coverings whenever wildlife care specialists are working in and around their enclosures, and the wearing of facial coverings during any medical procedures. Essential staff taking care of wildlife and maintaining other critical systems will remain active on grounds.
Across the country, zoos and aquariums have closed to the public amid widespread efforts to stop the spread of the novel coronavirus. The shutdowns have allowed for delightful videos of penguins marching around empty parks, but they haven’t stopped work at the facilities.
“It’s surreal that we’re in this situation,” said Doug War molts, vice president of animal care at the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium. Typically, zoo staffers perform lots of preventive care for their animals, such as routine vaccinations and physical exams.
“We always wear face masks when we’re doing an exam of a great ape,” said Nadine Lambert, chief veterinary officer at the San Diego Zoo and the San Diego Zoo Safari Park, which is home to gorillas, orangutans and bonobos. The Pittsburgh Zoo is being extra vigilant with its giant anteater, a species vulnerable to human influenza.
Some animals rely on a small variety of foods that could become unavailable if shutdowns persist or sickness sidelines large numbers of people who work for suppliers. In the event the local supplier of the platypuses’ favorite meal is unable to provide it, zookeepers are exposing the animals to other options a bit at a time.
But when added to water, Instant Ocean creates an artificial saltwater with levels of magnesium, calcium and other minerals designed to sustain creatures including octopuses and coral, garden eels and stingrays. If supply line interruptions get dire, some animals might have to be relocated to facilities closer to resources they need, War molts said.
For instance, the Columbus Zoo has greenhouses dedicated to growing emergency supplies of eucalyptus for the koalas. In that case, the animals might be moved to zoos in the south, where the koala food grows more easily, War molts said.
Zoos say handlers are now giving animals extra enrichment opportunities and exercises to make up for the lack of interaction with visitors. The aquarium is also bringing in catered lunches each day, both to thank employees and to cut down on their exposures, and also as a boost to local small businesses.
In Columbus, on-site employees are snacking on 125 boxes of Samoa's, Tagalogs, and Do-Si-Dos supplied by Heather Carpenter, a gorilla keeper and leader of Girl Scout Troop No. A gorilla named Zumba gave birth at Seattle’s Woodland Park Zoo earlier this month.
“We really just want people to know that even though we are not open to the public right now, our staff is still there every single day taking care of these animals,” said Marc Hangman, a zoological curator at Northwest Trek. This time of year at Northwest Trek, crowds would usually gather to see caribou roam freely.
“Yeah, you know, so we tried to let them know they should stay 6 feet apart at all times, but sometimes they just don't read the memos, I guess,” Hangman joked. Despite the closure of zoos, Pierce County zookeepers are still making the animals their main priority during the coronavirus outbreak.
Extra measures in place include a one-way path around the zoo, signs promoting social distancing, and increased cleaning procedures. Early in the day Tuesday, Shed Aquarium announced it would join the MCA in shutting down again temporarily as coronavirus rates rise in Illinois and across the country and officials ask the public to hunker back down.
Beginning at 12:01 a.m. Friday, all indoor museums must close to help stem the spread of the coronavirus, he said, part of a suite of mitigations meant to limit public gatherings. “These mitigations pause a number of indoor activities where the science shows us this virus can most easily spread,” Pritzker said.
Also, Tuesday, Lincoln Park Zoo, a primarily outdoor attraction, said it will stay open in the coming weeks but close during most of January and February for public safety and cost savings. “Shed Aquarium took stock in all the signals of the shelter advisory from the mayor,” CEO and President Bridget Coughlin said.
Chicago Mayor Lori Light foot last week issued a 30-day “stay-at-home advisory” effective Monday aimed at once again flattening the rising curve of COVID-19 cases and protecting public safety and the health-care system. MCA Chicago on Monday announced its temporary closure, through Dec. 4, although now the ability to reopen appears to rest with the success of COVID-19 mitigation efforts.
Pritzker warned last week that rising coronavirus infection numbers seemed to be pushing him toward issuing “some form of a mandatory stay-at-home order,” he said. He stopped short of doing that Tuesday, but he did move the state into Tier 3 Mitigations in Phase 4 of its COVID-19 recovery plan.
Deciding to close through the new year rather than for a shorter term, she said, was “sort of realistic scientific thought of how quickly the curve could flatten, but secondly it gives the organization an opportunity to really focus on other vehicles for mission delivery.” “At this time, we plan to stay open until our temporary closure in January and February,” Brookfield spokesman Sondra Eaten said Tuesday via email.
“We continue to have protocols in place, including face coverings required if guests are not able to social distance from others outside their group, have hand sanitizers located throughout the park, and all indoor buildings remain closed.” The major zoos and nature parks have their big annual holiday lights festivals coming up, and it was not immediately clear what impact the state’s outdoor restrictions would have.
Chicago Botanic Garden’s “Lights cape” began Friday, welcoming a lesser number of visitors than the previous year on new pathways and with increased room for interpersonal distancing. Tuesday evening, botanic garden and Lincoln Park Zoo spokespeople said they did not expect the new rules to impact their holiday lights presentations.