COVID-19 creature fix: Toronto zoo and aquarium let you connect virtually
TORONTO -- If you clicked on The Toronto’s Zoo’s Facebook page around 1 p.m. Tuesday, you would have found yourself among hundreds of people watching animal keeper Amanda teach visitors about zebras.
It’s all part of the zoo’s effort to provide live video updates daily on how they are caring for their 5,000 animals during their closure due to COVID-19.
“We wanted to share our zoo in this time when everyone’s in their homes, hopefully people are doing their part to help flatten the curve,” Toronto Zoo CEO Dolf DeJong told CTV News Toronto. “It was something we could do as part of our day-to-day operations to help brighten people’s lives.”
With so many Canadians cancelling their March Break plans, and now continuing to self-isolate or practicing social distancing, DeJong said he felt this was a good way to connect people with animals, as well as nature.
“Times like this, we feel a long way from nature,” DeJong said. “We know being outside has positive impacts on people’s psychological well-being, so it’s us giving a little glimpse of what’s going on outside, sharing what’s going on with our animals.”
Other organizations have made similar efforts to connect people with animals during the provincially-mandated closure of all non-essential businesses. At Ripley’s Aquarium of Canada, website visitors can enjoy a live stream of sharks and other fish swimming. General Manager Peter Doyle says the stream has been getting thousands of views a day.
“It’s very tranquil, it’s peaceful, it’s meditative,” Doyle tells CTV News Toronto. “This is a crazy world right now, and this is just one chance to escape. And that’s what we’re just trying to provide - a little bit of a break.”
The Toronto Humane Society is also closed, but adoptions are still being encouraged. Only now, the adoption process is being done digitally.
“We are offering digital adoptions right now online, which is a very exciting and innovative approach to still finding animals homes, even amidst this crisis,” Hannah Sotropa of the Toronto Humane Society said, adding that more than 40 animals have already found homes thanks to the digital adoption process.
“If you were interested in adopting, take a look at our website, see if there are animals that interest you,” Sotropa told CTV News Toronto. “You then reach out to our adoption department and on a first come, first served basis, we would go through interviews with the individuals and then book a meet and greet at the shelter.”
The Toronto Humane Society said itis also accepting monetary donations during the COVID-19 closure.