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Zookeepers self-isolate in U.K. wildlife park for 3 months to look after animals

Four zookeepers of Cornwall's Paradise Park have moved in to the zoo to self-isolate during COVID-19 and keep the animals happy.
Four zookeepers of Cornwall's Paradise Park have moved in to the zoo to self-isolate during COVID-19 and keep the animals happy. Paradise Park/Facebook

A U.K. zoo’s animals have welcomed their newest neighbours — four zookeepers — during the coronavirus outbreak.

In Hayle, U.K., Paradise Park employees Izzy Wheatley, Sarah-Jane Jelbert, Emily Foden and Layla Richardson decided to move in for at least three months so they can care for the animals during COVID-19 shutdowns.

“They are leaving their families, some of whom are following 12-week self-isolation periods,” the park wrote on Facebook last week. “They will be supported by other keepers on a daily basis, observing all the relevant guidelines.”

READ MORE: Unlikely pals — Orangutan family befriends otter crew in adorable zoo photos

The wildlife park is home to 1,200 birds and mammals, including penguins, parrots and flamingos, ITV reports.

While it’s likely a fun experience for the zookeepers, the park is unsure when it will reopen to the public. For many businesses, this is a worry when it comes to paying the bills.

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“The unknown is very worrying,” Alison Hales, director at Paradise Park, told ITV. “Spring is usually a hopeful time where we get an influx of visitors and we can breathe a sigh of relief.”

READ MORE: Penguins go on ‘field trip’ after U.S. aquarium shuts down during coronavirus pandemic

“It is now as if the rug has been pulled. I’m sure we will be OK,” she said. “We are relying on the birds to show us the way. We will come out the other end.”

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To help out, Hales, along with colleague Michelle Turton, organized a GoFundMe to raise the needed $17,500 to help during the zoo’s closure.

Questions about COVID-19? Here are some things you need to know:

Health officials caution against all international travel. Returning travellers are legally obligated to self-isolate for 14 days, beginning March 26, in case they develop symptoms and to prevent spreading the virus to others. Some provinces and territories have also implemented additional recommendations or enforcement measures to ensure those returning to the area self-isolate.

Symptoms can include fever, cough and difficulty breathing — very similar to a cold or flu. Some people can develop a more severe illness. People most at risk of this include older adults and people with severe chronic medical conditions like heart, lung or kidney disease. If you develop symptoms, contact public health authorities.

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To prevent the virus from spreading, experts recommend frequent handwashing and coughing into your sleeve. They also recommend minimizing contact with others, staying home as much as possible and maintaining a distance of two metres from other people if you go out.

For full COVID-19 coverage from Global News, click here.

meaghan.wray@globalnews.ca