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Zoo animals and staff adjust to a new normal

Posted at 6:22 PM, Apr 14, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-14 21:22:13-04

TUCSON, Ariz. — The coronavirus shutdown seems to be impacting every person and every business and that includes the Reid Park Zoo closed for the last month. We checked in to see how the animals and zookeepers are handling the unprecedented closure.

The new baby elephant is a sign that life continues at the zoo despite no visitors there to see it.

“I do think some of the animals have noticed that we don’t have visitors so our keepers have been providing lots of extra enrichment stimulation for them,” said Animal Care Supervisor Rebecca Edwards.

Edwards says staff and animals are adjusting to new normals like suiting up to protect big cats from getting COVID-19.

“We put on gloves, face mask and some animals we put on coveralls and take those off when we leave.”

And social distancing already comes easy to many of the inhabitants at the zoo.

“We call those animals solitary, so some of those solitary animals are tigers and jaguars they really only come together for reproduction. Other than that they maintain separate territories.”

Others like lions and elephants rely heavily on family ties.

“Elephants are very social the herd dynamics are something really important,” she said. “They get lots of social interactions and meeting the new baby is really interesting.”

The zoo relies heavily on ticket sales for funding.

“There’s always lots of stuff going on at the zoo, like the baby elephant, so we are really excited about when people will get to come back and visit us.”

Edwards says donations you can make on their website would be greatly appreciated.