Four zookeepers self-isolate at wildlife park to look after animals

Four zookeepers self-isolate at their wildlife park to ensure the animals are looked after during the coronavirus lockdown

  • Staff at Paradise Park in Hayle, Cornwall, are living on site to care for the animals
  • The zoo is home to 1,200 birds and mammals that require care during lockdown
  • They are maintaining normal routines for the animals so they are not distressed 
  • The zookeepers are even pretending to be visitors to the penguins 
  • Coronavirus symptoms: what are they and should you see a doctor?

Four dedicated zookeepers have moved into their zoo to self-isolate with the animals.

The members of staff from Paradise Park in Hayle, Cornwall, are now living on site so they can continue to care for the birds and animals while they isolate themselves.

The family-run business has a home on site, and now Izzy Wheatley, Sarah-Jane Jelbert, Emily Foden and Layla Richardson will be based there for the foreseeable future.

Izzy Wheatley (pictured) is one of four zookeepers who have self-isolated at Paradise Park in Hayle, Cornwall

Paradise Park is home to 1,200 birds and mammals that still require care despite the coronavirus pandemic.

Izzy said: ‘I had been thinking about how to handle the situation we all find ourselves in re isolating and social distancing as I have a big family including an elder member who has gone in to 12 weeks isolation.

‘At the same time the directors were having the same thoughts about using the house that is onsite and which became free as the Cornish Chough conservation meeting had just been cancelled.

‘Myself and two other keepers Rachel and Emily then moved in to the onsite house on Saturday.’

Sarah-Jane Jelbert is ensuring the animals maintain their normal routine during the coronavirus lockdown

Now living on the site, Izzy and the other keepers will continue to look after the animals – by feeding and cleaning, and giving medication where required.

She added: ‘We have just under 1,200 individual birds and mammals to look after, feeding, cleaning, giving medications, supplying enrichment activities, and any vital maintenance.

‘We are being supported by other keepers who are coming in at different times of day so they can keep separate, and obviously we are keeping our distance from them.

‘This is being achieved by changed rotas and splitting up areas of the Park to ensure we are all working in different areas.

The keepers will continue to look after the animals – by feeding and cleaning, and giving medication where required – throughout the period of self-isolation

‘We are keeping up the daily routines with our Humboldt’s Penguins.

‘A few are hand-reared and very friendly and in the summer season from Easter onwards they take part in “Photocalls”.

‘Usually, at the two feeding times of 11am and 3pm, we select a handful of visitors to help feed the penguins, give a talk then visitors are invited to meet and stroke one of the friendly ones and take photos.

‘To ensure we are ready when we re-open, we are continuing to go through these routines.

‘Plus we continue training with our eagles, vultures, hawks, macaws and other species who take part in our big free flying displays throughout the summer.’

The Park closed temporarily on March 21, but staff are posting regular updates on social media for their many fans.

The Park closed temporarily on March 21, but staff are posting regular updates on social media for their many fans

They are also running live webcams, one showing the penguins including at the 11am and 3pm feeding times.

The other webcam is from the red-billed chough seclusion aviaries showing them nest-building for the coming breeding season.

Izzy added: ‘We might get to a point where we don’t have any of our keepers in if we get it at the same time so we have to consider what happens then.

‘We’ve made guidelines so some of our maintenance workers can help feed.

‘We would normally do penguin feeding times at our normal times, at 11am and 3pm, and we are trying to keep this going so people can still be involved in the park.

‘We will be having one of our keepers down there at those times to keep penguin feeding going as normal and we are looking into other things we could do with that so keep an eye on the Facebook page in case we decide we have some more things to do.’

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