As many parts of the world are going into lockdown due to the recent coronavirus outbreak, many businesses and establishments are being forced to shut down to keep people indoors and safe from exposure. While there are people fortunate enough to work from home, millions of business owners are currently out of work and a lot of them are dependent on government relief funds for survival. The world has gone from 0- to 100 in a handful of months, but we’ll continue to stay positive.
While on the subject of positivity, a wildlife sanctuary in the UK is fortunate to have workers so dedicated that they’ve chosen to stay back and self-isolate in the zoo premises.
Izzy Wheatley, Sarah-Jane Jelbert, Emily Foden and Layla Richardson are four zookeepers who work for Paradise Park in Hay, Cornwall UK . These wonderful ladies have decided to self-isolate on the sanctuary grounds to cater to the animals as hands-on staff. The park, home to 1,200 birds and mammals, including penguins, parrots, and flamingos, has been shut down in compliance with the UK’s recent lockdown protocols.
However, the ladies will stay on in the sanctuary for 12 weeks, feeding the animals and cleaning the zoo. Other park employees are expected to come in at intervals to relieve the ladies throughout their stay.
“All our keepers are really dedicated to the animals, but some also have vulnerable family members at home. When they heard the advice about self-isolating to combat the coronavirus, they had to make a decision about whether to stay away from work and isolate with their families. But then they suggested that they could come and stay in the house at Paradise Park to be there for the birds every day without risking the health of their families,” explained Alison Hales, Director of Paradise Park.
A priceless sacrifice
These women could have easily chosen to stay home and quarantine with their families, but the park is a source of income and recreation for many other people. If the animals are not well-cared for, a lot of other families would be affected in the aftermath.
When asked if the animals would be disturbed by the lack of visitors, Hales said that the park would try to keep up the animals’ routine and additionally film their activities on webcams.
“We are keeping to the Park’s routines, like twice daily penguin feeding times (can be seen on our webcam) so that they would not notice too much difference. Also, spring is in the air and many pairs of birds only have pairing up and nest-building on their minds,” Hales said.
However, some of the more friendly parrots are already showing signs of loneliness.
“Some parrots interact with people a lot, for instance, Max and Cocky, the pair of Umbrella Cockatoos were shouting ‘hello’ really loud to me this morning and I thought they were pleased to see me,” Hales said.
In all the 46 years the park has been in operation, they’ve only closed down for Christmas holidays or on days when the snow made it impossible to leave one’s home.
According to the zookeepers who have volunteered to stay, living at the park for three months definitely has its perks.
“It’s magical to walk around once all the feeding and cleaning has been done, quietly observing the birds going about their business. You can chat with your special bird friends for a bit longer, but the best bit is waking up to a tropical dawn chorus in deepest Cornwall!”
They would also be training the birds ahead of the zoo’s free-flying displays often held during summer. It’s still unknown if this year’s summer activities would hold, but preparing nonetheless is all part of staying positive.
“The unknown is very worrying,” Hales told ITV. “Spring is usually a hopeful time where we get an influx of visitors and we can breathe a sigh of relief. It is now as if the rug has been pulled. I’m sure we will be OK. We are relying on the birds to show us the way. We will come out the other end.”
The park relies solely on visitor fees for all of its funding. Since there would no longer be any visitors for an uncertain period, the management set up a GoFundMe account with a target of $17,500, the estimated revenue needed to keep the park running for a while.
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- Dr. Jockers. Coronavirus: Symptoms, Prevention & Natural Options. The Hearty Soul. https://theheartysoul.com/coronavirus-symptoms-prevention-natural-options/. Retrieved 03-04-2020
- Meaghan Wray. Zookeepers self-isolate in U.K. wildlife park for 3 months to look after animals. Global News. https://globalnews.ca/news/6757096/zoo-keepers-self-isolate-coronavirus/. Retrieved 03-04-2020
- Coronavirus – UK. Worldometer. https://www.worldometers.info/coronavirus/. Retrieved 03-04-2020
- Dave Stubbings. What date did the UK go into lockdown – and when will it end. Mirror. https://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/what-date-uk-go-lockdown-21808178. Retrieved 03-04-2020
- Alex Nelson. UK lockdown: what the stay-at-home order means – and if more restrictions will be introduced. Edinburgh News. https://www.edinburghnews.scotsman.com/news/transport/uk-lockdown-what-stay-home-order-means-and-if-more-restrictions-will-be-introduced-2445902. Retrieved 03-04-2020
- Paradise Park Support Fund. GoFundMe.https://www.gofundme.com/f/paradise-park-support-fund?utm_medium=copy_link&utm_source=customer&utm_campaign=p_lico+share-sheet. Retrieved 03-04-2020
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