ZooWatch: How is ZSL Whipsnade coping during the Coronavirus shutdown?

The Herts Ad spoke to staff at ZSL Whipsnade Zoo to find out how they are managing under the Coronav

The Herts Ad spoke to staff at ZSL Whipsnade Zoo to find out how they are managing under the Coronavirus lockdown. Picture: ZSL Whipsnade - Credit: Archant

Zookeepers are still working to care for Whipsnade’s resident animals through the coronavirus lockdown.

Behind the closed gates, life goes on for its dedicated team of zookeepers, vets, security and grounds staff.

The animals are not at risk from the virus but staff, of course, are.

The guidelines that apply to everyone else regarding social distancing affect them too but the animals still need to be taken care of.

ZSL Whipsnade Zoo’s chief operating officer Owen Craft said: “The health and safety of our animals and staff is our top priority. We‘re following all guidelines with regards to the need for self-isolation, and practising social distancing as much as is possible to ensure our dedicated team stay well.

“The animals are used to seeing lots of people come through the doors on a daily basis which is not happening now, under the lockdown.

“Staff are providing companionship and entertainment to keep them stimulated.”

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Owen added: “We’re sure some are missing the visitors, but our staff are keeping the animals occupied with enrichment devices and maintaining regular training schedules so they’re well stimulated. Plus, the donkeys are getting a few extra chin tickles from their keepers!”

In terms of eating, regular food deliveries continue and some animals are even fed from plants grown on site, like the giraffes, who eat leaves grown on trees around the zoo.

Owen added: “Our logistics team have worked, and continue to work, incredibly hard to ensure our supplies are maintained; keeping thousands of mouths fed is a quite a feat at the best of times, so we‘re in good hands.”

As an international conservation charity, ZSL relies on public support to continue to work for wildlife, including the costs of caring for and feeding the animals.

Owen said: “We really can’t wait to welcome visitors back to our zoo in the future, so for now we are appealing to our supporters and animal lovers to help us care for the thousands of animals who call the zoo home while it is closed to the public.”

Donate now by visiting zsl.org/support-our-zoos