COVID-19 and zoos, how are the animals impacted and the funding
Zoo's, like any other business, have suffered huge losses with the sudden closure brought about by lockdown regulations. Despite the complete loss revenue from admission tickets, membership sales, and special events, hundreds of animals still need to be fed and looked after daily. Eric Bairrao Ruivo, conservation director at Beauval Zoo in Saint Aignan mentioned that although government support through loans is helpful, the situation cannot continue for much longer. Other zoo representatives concur with some news outlets having quoted zoo representatives saying if the situation got bad enough, they might have to slaughter some of their animals to feed others. Animal care is further complicated by unanswered medical questions on how the virus affects various animal species. For instance, chimpanzees are usually fed by hand via their keepers, but zoo staff has decided to start distancing themselves from the animals and have resolved to scatter the food throughout their enclosures. The human interaction and connection that zoo animals had grown accustomed have now been threatened and zookeepers say not all animals are happy with the change. The manner of feeding is not the only change for the animals, the types and quality of food have also deteriorated as funding has reduced reduces. As supply chains are being disrupted by the pandemic, the stoking up of animal enrichment items like fresh produce and white bread, used to reinforce positive behavior cannot be stocked up due to their short shelf life. But even though Zoo facilities are closed to the public, there remains a number of innovative ways available to raise funding. Chester Zoo in the UK is an example of a Zoo that used Facebook to host virtual tours, attracting thousands of people and "breaking the internet". Similar ideas are available on social platforms such as
Instagram, YouTube, and Patreon. Where organizations can host pay-per-view science programs for children at home and other services. The strain on the resources available to zoo animals is exacerbated by the trade-off between the supplies for human health care and that of animals. Surgical masks, shoe covers, surgical gowns and even anesthesia and any other drugs that can be used by humans are used in both fields and humans have tended to be prioritized at the expense of zoo animals. Before the COVID-19 pandemic, zoo veterinary teams could afford to spend most of their time doing preventative care or elective treatments, while the remaining time was spent caring for sick animals. But according to Dr. Ellen Bronson, a senior director in animal health, medical staff has been forced to cancel or postpone as many routine exams as possible from yearly checkups to vaccinations. With a decline in the medical care offered to animals during the COVID-19 pandemic, questions have raised regarding the safety of zoo keepers that interact with animals. In this regard, many research papers are being generated during this crisis, but the lack of strict peer review mean their interpretation must be made with caution. For instance, investigations in the Netherlands are assessing the possible zoonotic transmissions of the virus from infected mink to farmworkers. The coronavirus is a zoonotic disease, meaning that it jumped from animals to humans. The case of Nadia, a Tiger infected at the Brox zoo by an asymptomatic zookeeper suggests that the zoonotic disease that originated from bats and pangolins seems to be jumping back to infect animals. However, The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has since asserted that there is no evidence that they can spread COVID-19 to people.