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Caring for Buffalo Zoo animals in time of COVID-19

Care of animals & staff safety top priority
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Posted at 6:32 PM, Apr 03, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-09 13:07:46-04

BUFFALO, NY (WKBW) — “We always make sure that the animals have a lot enrichment and a lot of stimulation and so the keepers are really, really focusing on that,” responded Norah Fletchall, president & CEO, Buffalo Zoo.

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Buffalo Zoo staffer with animal during pandemic.

For three weeks now, the Buffalo Zoo has been closed to the public because of this pandemic. But our animal friends at the Zoo are still being well cared for.

Phase Four industries to include zoos, museums, and aquariums
New guidance from New York state will include zoos, museums, and aquariums among other low-risk indoor and outdoor activities in Phase Four of reopening.

There may be a global pandemic going on, but when it comes to caring for the residents of the Buffalo Zoo, it’s business as usual.

Fletchall says the “number one priority” is making sure the animals are well cared for while staffers remain safe.

“The social distancing thing, staff is doing an absolute phenomenal job with that as well all our kind of learning the new normal,” Fletchall explained.

Fletchall says there have been no reported cases of COVID-19 among Zoo staffers and they continue to urge workers to stay home if they're sick.

To limit potential exposure, the Zoo has developed a two team model for keepers and staffers. Part of the team works three days, the other part, four days a week.

“We’re laser focused on the animals and staff,” Fletchall noted. “We’ve taken steps to do a couple of things to protect the animals and also to protect our staff.”

The practice of social distancing with some animals, like gorillas is not new, with staffers wear masks and shields.

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Zoo staffer holds up bird inside Buffalo Zoo.

“The animals routine is actually, for the most part, not changed that much. That's critically important for them,” Fletchall remarked.

“Once you do get the clear to reopen, what kind of sanitizing will you do or have you already, so that when folks come back they feel safe to touch things at the Buffalo Zoo,” Buckley asked. “That's a great question. Those are all the things that we're planning for and preparing for now because we can't predict when we are going to reopen right now or what that reopening might look like,” replied Fletchall.

The Zoo also revised its natural disaster plans to make sure it has enough supplies. Zoo animals are cared for 24/7, 365 days a year.

“We just made sure that we have the supplies that we are need for an extended period of time,” Fletchall noted.

The Zoo, like so many business trapped in this public health crisis, could take a financial hit. 80-percent of its revenues come from zoo admissions and membership.

But the Zoo leader noted they have set up an emergency response fund on their website, if you can help.

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Two bison sit outside their enclosed area facing at Delaware Park.

For now, the best chance of seeing a zoo animal is probably on Parkside Avenue around the giraffe exhibit or in the back of the Zoo at Delaware Park where the bison's roam and we could all use a little Buffalove.