How are the animals doing?
Our highest priority is for the animals. Though we temporarily closed to the general public on March 17, 2020 during the “Stay at Home” mandates, our essential zookeeper staff continue to put the animal’s health and welfare first and foremost. Animal care starts in the early morning and continues for approximately 12 hours per day.
Due to Federal Licensing, regulations, and mandates as they relate to the animals, we are required to follow the same protocol with the animals as we do with the public and in the workplace. Our animal care includes 6-foot distancing, masks, gloves, face shields where needed, foot (boot) baths to keep transfer from our shoes, and sanitation of all tools, frequently touched areas (locks, fences, gates), and any items that may come in contact with the animals.
We have spent the lock-down time making improvements to the animal areas. This includes re- purposing existing fencing and supplies to construct newer and more species-specific housing. As of this posting (August 1) we are nearing the completion of new housing and exhibit areas for our small cats (bobcat and lynx). The new areas are landscaped with lawns, painted backdrops featuring Northwest plants, and the biggest transformation – black fencing for clear viewing and photos. We have also completed half of the planned red, silver, and arctic fox areas that are currently the new homes of the Arctic Foxes and part of our Red Fox family.
During the heat of the summer the animals are kept cool and comfortable. In the early summer shade tarps were placed and secured over all exhibit and den areas. These will remain in place until cooler weather. Pools were put into the animal areas that currently do not have built in water features. The favorite time for “pool parties” (especially the tigers) is taking a dip or long soak prior to dinner being served. Sprinklers are run to keep all the areas, including the public spaces, cool throughout the day. Our shade trees are in full leaf and shade tents for the guests are in place.