Chaffee Zoo staff, animals adapt to life under shelter-in-place order

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- While the Fresno Chaffee Zoo remains closed to visitors, staff and volunteers continue to work as normal to keep the animals fed and cared for.

"Our income has now dropped to zero, yet our expenses have not and remain the same," said zoo veterinarian Dr. Shannon Nodolft. "While we're getting some help from the federal government, we have staff working from home, and it's just a whole different thing, but the animal care remains the same."

Dr. Nodolf says despite the lack of crowds inside the park, the animals seem to be adjusting to the new normal.

Officials have set up virtual tours through the zoo's website called #BringTheZooToYou. The idea is to educate and engage the public with these behind the scenes videos while providing project ideas families can try at home.

"It's all free right now, and all online-based and most of the resources are on our website, and there's a banner at the top that says "Bring the Zoo to You." We're trying to show people what life is still like for us behind the scenes and our animal training," she said.

Zoo officials are also taking preventative measures with animals that would potentially be susceptible to COVID-19, such as great apes and even ferrets.

"There's still ongoing research on what animals really are susceptible to this species of COVID, some of the really close relatives we do see that they're sensitive to. So taking those precautions with our ferrets, anteaters, primates, and even our big cats," Dr. Nodolf said.

Despite the closure, zoo officials continue to work and care for the animals in anticipation of when they can open to visitors again.

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