Coronavirus: Saskatoon Forestry Farm Park & Zoo staff remain busy during closure

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WATCH: – May 6, 2020

Through the COVID-19 pandemic, the animals’ needs at the Saskatoon Forestry Farm Park & Zoo stay the same and that means staff are still busy, even though the zoo is closed to the public.

The grounds are home to over 300 animals. Many of those are natural inhabitants of Canada, but many of the 60 different species are from all over the world.

“We have to do some extra work, where we are taking extra precautions, wearing masks, and social distancing, but we are out here every day, 365, taking care of the animals and working through that,” zoo manager Jeff Mitchell said.

“So in that aspect, life hasn’t changed much.”

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With no patrons walking through the gates, and consistent interactions with people outside of their enclosures, the animals can tell that something is off.

“So we’ve been working really, really hard, to make that we are taking that opportunity to give the animals extra enrichment, with some extra little things to play with, or more opportunities to browse for food, or look for food, or just give some more of that social interaction that they would expect to have from all the guests coming out that they are missing right now,” Mitchell said.

Across the country, it’s the same story. Those zoos and aquariums are also closed to the public so officials at all the facilities openly share ideas on how to make life better, and safer for the animals.

“Things that we wouldn’t normally do, but that you would expect to see at a hospital all the time. Our animals are our lifeblood. We care so greatly, and so dearly of all these animals here. We are going through every single precaution to make sure that things are going well.”

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Saskatoon zoo management also want to make sure that the public knows that even though the zoo is closed, the green space in front of it is still open for the public to enjoy until 4 p.m. daily.

The washrooms remain closed to the public.

READ MORE: You’re less likely to catch coronavirus outdoors — so why are parks closed?

“We are encouraging people to come out and take walks or have a picnic, you know the weather has changed here and the trees are starting to bud, the flowers are starting to poke up and we are really excited about what this summer is going to bring for us,” Mitchell said.

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.

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