Zookeepers self-isolate with 1,200 animals to ensure they are fed and taken care of amid coronavirus pandemic

Zookeepers self-isolate with 1,200 animals to ensure they are fed and taken care of amid coronavirus pandemic
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Four zookeepers have chosen to self-isolate with animals on the grounds of a wildlife sanctuary to ensure they are properly cared for during the coronavirus pandemic.

Officials at Paradise Park, Cornwall, England have set themselves up in a house within the sanctuary premises so they can continue to protect and nurture the 1,200 birds and mammals housed there, Metro reports.

The staff members staying back with the animals will be supported by other keepers working on split rotas and taking care of different areas. The sanctuary officially temporarily closed on March 21, but officials have continued to run live webcams and post regular updates so people can still enjoy seeing the animals remotely.

"I had been thinking about how to handle the situation we all find ourselves in re isolating and social distancing as I have a big family including an elder member who has gone into 12 weeks isolation," one of the keepers, Izzy Wheatley, said. "At the same time, the directors were having the same thoughts about using the house that is onsite and which became free as the Cornish Chough conservation meeting had just been canceled."

"Myself and two other keepers Rachel and Emily then moved into the onsite house on Saturday," she continued. "We have just under 1,200 individual birds and mammals to look after, feeding, cleaning, giving medications, supplying enrichment activities, and any vital maintenance."

According to Wheatley, they are being supported by other keepers who are coming in different times of the day so "they can keep separate, and obviously we are keeping our distance from them."

"This is being achieved by changing rotas and splitting up areas of the Park to ensure we are all working in different areas," she added. "We are keeping up the daily routines with our Humboldt’s Penguins."

The keepers are continuing the routines to ensure they are ready at the time of re-opening. "Plus we continue training with our eagles, vultures, hawks, macaws and other species who take part in our big free-flying displays throughout the summer," Izzy added.

Paradise Park staff continues to regularly update its social media pages and run live webcams although the sanctuary temporarily was closed to the public just over a week ago. "We might get to a point where we don’t have any of our keepers in if we get it at the same time so we have to consider what happens then," Wheatley said. "We’ve made guidelines so some of our maintenance workers can help feed."

"We would normally do penguin feeding times at our normal times, at 11 am and 3 pm, and we are trying to keep this going so people can still be involved in the park," she explained. "We will be having one of our keepers down there at those times to keep penguin feeding going as normal and we are looking into other things we could do with that so keep an eye on the Facebook page in case we decide we have some more things to do."

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