LONDON, Mar 26 (.) – The world’s oldest zoo closed to the public for the first time since World War II due to the quarantine imposed in London by the coronavirus pandemic, but for the nearly 18,000 animals housed there, life must continue.
The London Zoo, opened to scientists in 1828 and to the public in 1847, is one of the British capital’s most beloved attractions but, like everything else in the city, has been affected by the current crisis, leading to concern for the welfare of animals.
Unlike a museum or an art gallery, it’s not just about closing the doors.
Captive animals have needs, be it big beasts like lions, gorillas, zebras, and giraffes, or the whistling cockroaches of Madagascar and everyone in between.
It is an expensive and labor-intensive business and without the revenue from daily ticket sales – worth around $ 33 million last year at London Zoo and ZSL’s Zoo Whipsnade – a prolonged closure would be a nightmarish scenario.
To this must be added the logistical problems posed by the small army of zookeepers, veterinarians, security and land personnel (none classified as essential workers) that must arrive at Regents Park, if they have not been forced to isolate themselves. So it’s not surprising that the zoo is asking for donations.
“Generally, we are totally dependent on public support, so if people don’t walk through the doors, the revenue doesn’t come,” ZSL chief operating officer Kathryn England told . on Wednesday. “We really have to find other ways for people to show their support and donate instead,” he added.
“The important thing is that we have been planning this, so that we can make sure that our staff can continue to come and put the health and well-being of our animals first,” he said.
“Our animals eat a lot and we have to make sure that our supply chains continue to have top quality food. Whether it’s Covent Garden fruits and vegetables or meat, we need a continuous supply,” he added.
To make sure they can go to work, many of the zoo’s 50 daily workers have chosen to live in the lions’ lodgings, which usually house night guests who experience a “zoo sleepover.”
“They are not classified as essential workers, but they are absolutely essential to us,” England said. “It is a team of amazingly dedicated people,” he added.
(Report by Martyn Herman. Edited in Spanish by Lucila Sigal)