Zookeepers Share How Animals Are Reacting To The Lack Of Visitors
Animals in zoos are used to being with people in most parks. They are not wild animals at all.
Staying home in quarantine with your loved ones feels like living in a zoo now and then. Nobody said it’d be easy. Meanwhile, the real zoos out there have closed their doors to visitors. And that means that porcupines, cheetahs, rhinos, and all the bestest boys and girls are having no proper social life.
Are they going mad just like we are? Someone on Reddit was wondering, so they asked zookeepers: "how are the animals acting differently now that there are no visitors to the zoo?" The inquiry posted on r/AskReddit was upvoted 73.5K times, proving it's something people are genuinely interested in. Let’s see what the zoo workers have to say right below.
I work with a lot of geriatric animals at the zoo so it's not surprising that they have become a lot more relaxed since we closed to the public. Ex. Our artic fox spends a lot more of his time basking in the sun instead of spending time in his back holding area trying to avoid screaming children...
Control your children at the zoo please...
One of our emus loves everyone and makes friends with any new keepers who visit him, and so by extension loves having guests around. With the zoo being closed, he became quite morose for a few days, not acting anything like his usually happy self, because all the new friends he makes everyday were gone. So his keepers began asking people from other departments to stop by, take pictures, point him out, basically act like he's the center of attention. The hilarious little diva has been loving it.
Our city zoo is closed for visitors. However all the routine feeding activities are in place. Looks like some animals found it weird that there are no people around. The other day a fully grown white tiger started jumping like a puppy when he saw a few of us after two weeks of solitude.. that was a scene!
Bored Panda contacted Rebecca Blanchard, the media manager at Zoological Society of London, to find out how life in London Zoo looks different now during the quarantine. The ZSL London Zoo closed to the public on 21 March for the first time since World War Two. The staff is now sending packages of perishable food from its Terrace Restaurant to nearby hospitals, and its car park is now open to NHS workers.
Rebecca explained that zookeepers aren’t able to work from home: “our 18,000 animals all need feeding and looking after every single day, no matter what’s happening in the rest of the world.” The staff is now cycling to work and live in the repurposed Zoo lodges, which have previously been home to visitors experiencing an overnight stay at the Zoo.
I'm an aquarium keeper, and I've certainly noticed a change. Fish are not as stressed as they use to be, as there are no longer children stomping around and banging on glass screaming "NEMO, NEMO, ITS NEMO" at every clownfish. We brought some of our younger penguins down to let them watch the fish, and they were intrigued but confused as to why they couldn't catch them through the glass. Our octopus has become much more friendly as well, and instead of hiding all day from people, enjoys playing with small baby toys or solving food puzzles. Its been nice. I wish there were guidelines people had to sign to behave at zoos before entering, but at the same time, they are the lifeline we so desperately need to keep functioning.
Our pandas are finally banging.
Our gorillas miss the people watching so they get a tv with movies set up for them, plus lots of extra enrichment
The London Zoo staff is working hard to make sure life is as normal as possible for the animals and their routines are maintained. “Like always, Zookeepers have been dedicating their time to caring for the animals—feeding, cleaning, carrying out daily training,” said Rebecca.
The zookeepers need to think up fun and creative new activities to keep animals stimulated. And some animals even get a chance to have a stroll outside the Zoo! “Where safely possible, we take animals like the llamas and Bactrian camels on their walks around the Zoo.”
Due to temporary staff cuts, they no longer have the people to regularly walk the wombats. Some of the wombats are holding the keepers personally responsible. Imagine having a 20 kg chunk of muscle with big rodent teeth mad at you.
For a lot of our animals, having the ability to interact with guests is actually extremely important. Even for primates to be able to play with kids through the glass, they are missing out on a lot of enrichment. Guests keep a lot of the monkeys entertained. I watch our guests all day long show our marmosets and capuchins selfie cameras and they LOVE to see their reflection. Guests will also show videos on their phones to animals and the monkeys totally enjoy it.
We have a rescue cockatoo named Row who sings “row row row your boat” to guests. When little kids dance and sing it to her, she gets really excited and feeds off their energy. So do our other cockatoos on exhibit. But now without guests to show off for, every now and then when it’s quiet we’ll hear her start “row row row...” and then she stop and huffs a bit and gets really quiet and sad because she has no one to sing to. Some of our animals REALLY miss having kids to show off for.
You also have to remember that animals in zoos for the most park have grown up totally accustomed to being around people 24/7. They’re not wild animals at all really. They’ve grown up in a very different social dynamic. Quite a few animals get noticeably depressed in the winter months every year when we have few guests, and then perk up in the spring when we get busy.
A lot of the animals have noticed! We compare it to having 300 channels of cable TV to suddenly 10 channels. The apes, cats, and birds probably notice the most and get excited when any of us walk by. We actually have our firm instructions to take a regular walk around our big cat area because one of the snow leopards is sad from the lack of people calling him handsome daily.