Paradise Park zookeepers are quarantining with the animals
For these committed wildlife sanctuary workers, taking care of animals is much more than just a job.
Meet Izzy, Emily, Layla and Sarah-Jane, four young women who are so committed to their animal charges at the Paradise Park wildlife sanctuary in Cornwall, the UK, that they’ve decided to quarantine with them for three months! While people in many parts of the world are living in lockdown in the comfort of their homes, these women are self-isolating at work in the sanctuary’s on-site founder’s house usually used for conservation meetings.
While the 14-acre Paradise Park is temporarily closed to the public, this team is busy keeping their supporters in the picture with regular updates via social media and even webcams to share the challenges as they happen.
For instance, keeper Izzy, shares how they had to intervene to stop herring gulls from going after the penguin chicks featured in our video: “It was a really hot day, and both adults left the nest a couple of times to cool off. It was touch and go with us keeping the gulls away, but it’s a natural instinct for them to be smart and persistent. In the end we couldn’t stand by and watch it go wrong for the penguin chicks so we decided we had to step in and hand-rear them.”
These devoted keepers, and a handful of others that come in on a rota basis to help out with duties, have also created a unique wish list appeal through which supporters can donate much-needed supplies and treats to enrich the lives of their charges.
Paradise Park is home to around 1,200 birds and various mammals like red pandas and Asian otters, all of whom need to be looked after, fed and cleaned. Some need medications, while many look forward to enrichment activities and simple cuddles! It’s also the start of breeding season, so the team is putting up lots of nest boxes and keeping an eye on the progress of endangered species such as the Cuban Amazon Parrot and Blue-throated Macaw.
Even though there are no visitors at the moment, the keepers are sticking to the Park’s regular routines such as the twice daily penguin feeding times. While the crowd of visitors is no longer pressed up against the fence of their enclosure to watch the penguins waddle out of the water to be fed, the keepers continue to encourage the hand-reared birds in particular to get used to human contact so they will happily accept food from the public when the zoo reopens. The keepers are also maintaining the training schedule for eagles, hawks and other bird species that take part in the zoo’s flying displays happening over summer.
And these four stars aren’t the only zookeepers passionate in their conviction that they need to spend lockdown with their charges. The Siberian Times reports that caregivers at the Krasnoyarsk Royev Ruchey Nature Park are also staying inside the park for the duration of the lockdown.
These inventive keepers are having to think out of the box to care for animals like chimpanzee twins, Tikhon and Anfisa, who crave the company of visitors almost as much as food. Their solution? Setting up TV screens inside the cages to screen cartoon movies such as The Lion King which have cheered the chimps up!