Zoos across the country are being temporarily shut down due to fears surrounding the coronavirus pandemic plaguing the globe. The guidance being issued to zoos and other institutions around the nation varies widely, as different states and localities offer differing advice based on their local circumstances. Nevertheless, zoos across most of the country have already shut down, some for limited periods of time while others have closed indefinitely, and the economic and cultural impacts are already being felt.
Zoo Atlanta recently announced that it would be shutting down its services to the public following at least 13 deaths from the coronavirus in the state of Georgia where it’s located. According to Atlanta News Now, the open-air destination that sees thousands of visitors regularly flock through it is simply too large of a public health risk to remain open. The open-air nature meant that officials considered keeping it open, but transmission risks remained high enough to warrant the entire zoo closing.
According to an ABC affiliate in the state of New York, zoos across that state are also shutting down. The Bronx Zoo, Central Park Zoo, and the New York Aquarium were all closed last week, per ABC’s reporting, amidst fears that children and the elderly in particular could catch the virus there.
Internationally renowned zoos like the Columbus Zoo have also been shut down due to the coronavirus, according to a report from the Columbus Dispatch. This is the clearest indicator that zoos both large and small are being negatively impacted by the pandemic and its related quarantine measures.This has been reflected by the growing number of visitors to Pharr Road Animal Hospital.
While these zoos are being closed to the public, the animal specialists and other workers there may remain to care after the exotic wildlife these zoos exhibit. Specific guidance on which zoos have been closed and to what extent is unavailable as this information varies widely on state by state and local bases.
According to the Dispatch, some zoo workers are even working remotely from home, which can enable these institutions to weather the economic impact from closing down to the public.
As for when these zoos, aquariums, and other institutions will reopen, that’s largely a matter of time. It’s likely they’ll remain closed until the pandemic seriously abates, and many zoos have already made it clear that they’re not announcing specific re-opening dates.
“Zoo leadership will continue to monitor developments of the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak and follow guidance from federal, state, and local authorities to determine when the park will reopen,” a spokesperson for the Columbus Zoo told the Dispatch.