Like almost all public venues in the country, Paradise Park was forced to close last month to help prevent the spread of Covid-19. But while pubs and restaurants can be locked up and left alone, zoos clearly cannot. This is why four zoo keepers made the unusual choice to self-isolate at their place of work.
The keepers packed for 12 weeks and receive support from other staff members, who come in at different times of day to ensure they remain separate. With 1,200 animals living at the zoo, maintaining it is a tall order.
Izzy Saralis-Wheatly, one of the four keepers self-isolating with the animals, told the BBC: "We're super busy all the time which is a good distraction. We've all been here for each other when it's got tough.
"If the other zookeepers have to self-isolate, hopefully the four of us could keep it running as best as we could.
"The other workers are coming in, but it's so tricky because it's a team job. We can't help each other out if we're falling behind, so you just have to work at your own pace."
But while ensuring the animals survive lockdown is the immediate challenge, maintaining the financial health of the zoo as a whole is also a huge problem, with the cost of food alone in excess of £1,500 ($1,861) a week.
Izzy said: "With it being Easter we are at our lowest point in terms of money and feeding animals costs ridiculous amounts.
"This is usually a really important time of year with lots of visitors."
Yes we can still see you guys... :eyes: pic.twitter.com/LKunyChkbZ
- ParadiseWildlifePark (@ParadiseWLPark) March 21, 2020
One saving grace for Paradise Park is that it doesn't have any chimpanzees to worry about. Other zoos are having to take extra measures to protect the species as it is believed they are extremely vulnerable to Covid-19.
According to the Edinburgh Evening News, primatologist Dr Cat Hobaiter, said: "We know that chimpanzees definitely, and probably all apes, are very vulnerable to coronavirus.
"Not only do we know they can catch the same ones we get, but when they get it it's worse for them. It is very probably lethal for chimps if they get it.
"Normally I would say that if humans are susceptible, then the apes are very likely to be able to get it and maybe also the other primates. But we do know from testing in China that macaques - a type of old world monkey - can get it, so this does look like all primates are going to be vulnerable to it.
"We really are quite worried that if this gets into the wild populations we could lose thousands or hundreds of thousands of apes in the next six months."
Paradise Park is currently looking for donations to help look after the animals while the zoo is closed to the public. You can donate here.
It's okay to not panic. LADbible and UNILAD's aim with our series, Cutting Through, is to provide our community with facts and stories from the people who are either qualified to comment or have experienced first-hand the situation we're facing. For more information from the World Health Organisation on coronavirus, click here.
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