This story has been updated, correcting the misidentification of the chimpanzees and the spelling of meerkat. Thanks to two Buzz readers who are knowledgeable docents at the LA Zoo.
We were curious to learn how zoo residents fared during the pandemic while it was closed to human visitors. We learned a lot when we were treated to a tour of the Los Angeles Zoo with Greater Los Angeles Zoo Association President Tom Jacobson.
The zoo closed in March of last year, re-opened in August, then closed again in November and re-opened this spring. During that time, staff was always on hand taking care of animals, but there were noticeably fewer humans around. Some animals hardly minded the absence but others were much more excited when staff would come by their exhibits, explained Jacobson.
“There was a range of reactions,” explained Kait Hilliard, VP, Marketing & Communications at the Greater Los Angeles Zoo Association. “Some of the animals were much more curious. During normal times, the animals will just tune people out.”
Like the animals, zoo staff are acclimating to the whatever the new normal is, explained Hilliard. Masks are still required and they are considering keeping the requirements since primates and felines are susceptible to COVID. Thankfully there haven’t been any incidents at the Los Angeles Zoo but there have been at other zoos.
Reservations are also required even though there are no capacity restrictions because it’s an outside venue. But they’re allowing about 50 precent capacity so they can allow for social distancing. There are lots of clever signs reminding guests to maintain appropriate social distance. It doesn’t always work though, as we observed. There’s a human tendency to want to crowd together to see an animal, rather than wait patiently and take turns! But we get it, we were fascinated by kangaroo joey (a baby kangaroo), climbing in and out of momma’s pouch.
We can highly recommend to a visit if you’re looking for a fun family activity this weekend or once your kids are out of school. Hilliard told us weekdays are much less busy than weekends. But even still, it’s not crowded with only 50% capacity, so you are sure to get to see lots of animals. Check out the zoo’s website for more information on visiting and what to expect.
Patty – those are not monkeys – they are chimpanzees – great apes.
Thanks so much for the correction! I understand you are an expert on this.