Zoos cannot go dark during coronavirus pandemic

Cherish's Creature Corner

Washington, D.C. (CBS) — Zoos are closed, but unlike theaters and stadiums, they cannot go dark. Animals need constant care, and like us, they’re threatened by the coronavirus.

At the Smithsonian’s National Zoo in Washington, behind the gate, the keepers and animals are as busy. A top priority now is keeping the animals and the people safe from the coronavirus.

“When the tiger at the Bronx Zoo tested positive we immediately implemented protocols to keep our all of our cats safe so our tigers our lions our bobcats our cheetahs all of them,” said Brandie Smith, the zoo’s deputy director.

It’s not just the big cats– gorillas, chimpanzees, and other great apes are also susceptible to some human diseases.

For anyone who needs a break from all the bad news, take a virtual field trip to the zoo.

“Normally people come here and they see animals and their own sense of wonder and on inspiration, and we don’t want them to lose that, that’s really important in a time like this,” Smith said.

The wonder of life is on display on the cheetah cam where Echo just gave birth to four healthy cubs. And there’s an unusual take on the wonder of motherhood with a wallaby joey who spends most of his time in his mother’s pouch.

Redd, a three year old orangutan and his mom are a bit more outgoing. And this being spring, the wonder of love has infected many animals at the zoo, including the flamingoes who perform synchronized mating dances. And if you miss the party scene, maybe a lemur birthday party will help.

Tyler Johnson and his family are disappointed the zoo is closed but the facet that the keepers are still on the job brightened his day.

He said, “It’s also just nice to know that they care so much that they will just keep working during anything.”

Eventually, we’ll get through this and zoos will reopen. Then we can all join Alice, the national zoo’s dancing crane, in jumping for joy.

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