Here's what Toronto Zoo animals have been getting up to during the coronavirus lockdown
An absence of visitors doesn't mean the zoo has been quiet, however — far from it.
Animal caretakers are still working full-time to feed, nurture and enrich the lives of the more than 5,000 creatures who inhabit the sprawling Scarborough site.
With no civilian humans around, they've actually been able to let some zoo residents explore in ways they were previously unable to, much like the now-famous Shedd Aquarium pengiuns who recently went on an adorable "field trip" inside the Chicago facility.
The zoo first announced that it would be closing due to concerns about the 2019 novel coronavirus on March 13. The closure went into effect on Saturday.
"During this closure, Zoo staff will still be on-site to ensure the health and welfare of the 5,000 animals in our care," wrote the zoo in an announcement on Facebook.
"Full refunds will be issued for camps, corporate events, Terra Lumina ticket holders, and other paid event programming during this time."
Despite the Zoo closure, care doesn’t stop for our 5,000 animals. Shout out to our incredible team who is making sure our animals are staying safe, happy and healthy 💚 💚 #ClosedButStillCaring #TheZooToYou pic.twitter.com/dRJHgUeViq— The Toronto Zoo (@TheTorontoZoo) March 16, 2020
What the zoo didn't reveal at the time was that it would be offering live, free educational programming on Facebook throughout the course of its shut down — each segment taking place at 1 p.m in a different part of the facility.
From polar bear training sessions...
We’re #LIVE on Facebook at the polar bear habitat with Keeper Amy! Tune in from home to hear a Polar Bear Keeper talk with Juno as well as watch a training session with our polar bear Nikita: https://t.co/443xPEvGnx. #TheZooToYou #ClosedButCaring pic.twitter.com/HBcNJAURLV— The Toronto Zoo (@TheTorontoZoo) March 17, 2020
To live interactive chats about endangered toads...
The zoo has been pumping out a steady stream of education and entertaining content for fans since it closed down to the public.
Happy St. Patrick’s Day 💚☘️ Today may not feel like St. Patrick’s Days in the past, but we hope Petal brings a smile to your face. This hippo kiss will be auctioned off at Hippo Weekend in the summer to raise money for hippos in the wild 🦛 #ClosedButStillCaring #TheZooToYou pic.twitter.com/FkU6qg9TgI— The Toronto Zoo (@TheTorontoZoo) March 17, 2020
In addition to the Facebook Live broadcasts, zoo officials have also been active on TikTok — and needless to say, they're posting fire animal content.
Using the hashtag #ClosedButCaring, zoo workers have also been providing fans with more behind-the-scenes animal caretaking content than usual.
Today, they showed off a raven named Bran who can play Connect Four as well, if not better, than most humans.
This undefined period of social distancing may suck, in many ways, for people, but we can always count on the animal kingdom to brighten our days as usual.
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