To prevent the further spread of the coronavirus, businesses and establishments were forced to shut down as residents were asked to practice self-quarantine and social distancing. Along with it were the zoos in different cities.

Zookeepers said the zoo shutdown actually gives them more time to spend with the animals and work with them in new ways.

“We can work on different training and get them used to different things,” said zookeeper Tara Fisher. “It’s nice to be able to introduce [animals] to different aspects of the zoo without a lot of people, because that can be overwhelming when you get both at once.”

Greg Bockheim, director of Virginia Zoo, said new and baby animals were getting more confident in their exhibits without visitors around. Keepers of the zoo were also able to walk some animals in other parts of the zoo grounds they did not have access before the shutdown.

“They might visit the giraffe, zebras, and other animals so they’re becoming more familiar to zoo grounds and more desensitized to what might make them nervous,” Bockheim said.

He added that although the shutdown has been financially damaging the zoo, they are seeing other benefits from it. Zoo staff were able to finish their big projects, like landscaping and construction improvements, which can be difficult with thousands of people around.

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