There have been many inquiries to the status of the Jackson Zoo lately, especially with the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. The entire staff sympathizes with all our local community partners, as well as our sister zoos and aquariums around the world, that are dealing with the difficult circumstances of sheltering in place.
Special thoughts and prayers to the Bronx Zoo as their animal care staff deals with the illness in both their staff and tigers. That is a constant and deep seated concern for those in animal care, and our hearts go out to them. Wishing a quick recovery for all.
We’ve been closed to the public since September 31st of 2019 for repairs and inspection preparation, so basic operations stay the same. At this time, no keepers or animals have shown any COVID-19 symptoms, but all staff are using all available precautions.
A small staff means that the daily routines have always been pretty solitary, but the coronavirus has forced us to tweak some things. For instance, keepers and staff try to arrange their tasks in a way where they don’t share communal space; most communication between staff is handled via phone or radio; and when interaction cannot be avoided, everyone uses the 6 foot social distancing rule, even if outdoors.
Strict cleaning and disinfecting protocols of both animal and human spaces remain in place, but there is extra focus on human self care, as well. For Keepers, getting sick is scary not only from a personal standpoint, but with such a small staff, it means even more work for coworkers. So everyone is doing their best to stay healthy for the animals and each other.
When it comes to repairs and improvements, the work is still in progress, but it has been slowed. With services and businesses having to close or reduce hours, which is absolutely understandable, the staff does what we can with supplies we already have on hand. We look forward to picking up right where we left off as soon as everyone is back in business.
We still consider ourselves fortunate to be thought of by so many in our community. Several zoo sponsors and patrons have donated to animal enrichment, including Ms. Hope Henry, Zoo Crew member, with some fun enrichment items. Plus US Foods in Flowood, and Salad Days of Flora gave our animals some fresh produce – some of it very different from daily diet requirements – which has been a nice addition for both animal and keeper. (Want to donate to the staff for the animals or repairs? Check out our enrichment page, look into “adopting” an animal, or you can make a monetary donation HERE.)
We want to assure everyone that our plans for completing repairs, undergoing USDA inspection, and reopening to the public have not changed, just the timeline.