Paradise Park, a wildlife sanctuary in Hayle, Cornwall, UK announced that it would be temporarily closed to the public as a measure against the coronavirus outbreak. The park emphasized that it is vital to ensure the health and the safety of animals and therefore it is imperative that the staff keeps in good health too.
With this news, four of its staff members — Izzy, Emily, Layla, and Sarah-Jane — volunteered to self-isolate themselves in the park. During the 12-week self-isolation period, they will be supported by their colleagues who will be coming in during their shifts.
Image Credit & More Info: Paradise Park
“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.
The reason why they chose to move into the park was a precautionary one. They did not want to put those who were at home at risk. Besides, if things come to the worse and none of the staff can work, the four of them will be able to take care of the animals, Lizzy explained.
The park houses 1,200 birds and a number of various mammals like red pandas, red squirrels, Asian otters, harvest mice, and the Fun Farm animals. Feeding, cleaning, medicating, and looking after them is no easy task even without a global pandemic on their shoulders.
When asked how the animals were reacting to the absence of visitors, Alison said: “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.”
She continues: “However, we have many different kinds of parrots here (we are home to the World Parrot Trust), some in small colonies and others in pairs and I do feel the friendliest of these are wondering where everyone is. 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.”
One of the staff explained that they will be continuing the zoo’s routine.
With Easter coming, the zoo will begin doing what they call Photocalls—a handful of visitors are chosen to help with feeding the penguins, to pet them, and to take photos. They are also continuing the training schedules of the birds who are part of the zoo’s free-flying displays that take place during the summer.
Self-quarantining at the zoo has its own perks. As Alison of Paradise Park explains: “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!”
Even though the park is physically closed, it still provides a window to the visitors through regular updates, and live webcams.
However, without the active daily patronage due to the pandemic forcing many public locations to close, Paradise Park has also lost much of its income. “As long as our keepers stay well to care for the animals, then the next challenge is funds,” explained Alison.
“All our income comes from visitors and we have only been closed on Christmas Day and a few days due to snow in our 46 years. Winter is our quietest time of year, so we really look forward to the Easter holidays, we put on extra events and get lots of visitors. We have been very self-sufficient over all these years, many people are regular visitors and we have achieved a lot of really good conservation work for endangered species. Our bank is being helpful and has already extended our overdraft but this is the first time we have ever done a fund-raiser.”
In this regard, the zoo’s staff members launched a GoFundMe campaign with the hopes of covering expenses for food and other vital expenses, which adds up to over $1,500 per week. Please consider donating here to help keep the zoo running during the shut-down.