COVID-19 has forced people around the world to stay home. The governments of many countries are encouraging people to "keep a social distance" from one another until they can get a handle on the deadly outbreak. In some countries, strong restrictions on movement, such as lockdowns of cities, have made it almost impossible to go out of the house without a valid reason. While humans are being locked in, animals are finding new freedom to roam. The unusually quiet streets, parks and beaches are encouraging animals to come out of hiding and take over the previously busy domains.
|▲ Olive Ridley Sea Turtles are heading to the sea (Photo from Mohan Upadhye.)|
Zoos in cities where a lockdown is in force, are finding their animals enjoying the peace they are experiencing. The stress of visitors disappeared and the some animals are even being freed from their cages to wander around the sites. The Shedd Aquarium in Chicago, USA, gave penguins free time to wander around the facility when the aquarium closed and the seaward birds happily obliged. Penguins from the South Pole were are to see a white dolphin Beluga, which is native to the North Pole. The Shedd Aquarium said in its social media account, "It may be awkward for us, but it's a daily routine for Shedd's animals these days." In addition to the Shedd Aquarium, the St. Louis Zoo, the Cincinnati Zoo, and the Fort Worth Zoo were closed because of the COVID-19 crisis, so, the animals that had been trapped cages were able to come out and take a walk around. At the Cincinnati Zoo, there was an incredible scene of a bush boar watching a meerkat. At the zoos in Fort Worth and St. Louis, otters interacted with the Patagonian Mara and alpacas greeted chimpanzees and orangutans.
In a world where people are missing, wild animals are eagerly showing up to take their place. In San Francisco, the city seemed abandoned due to COVID-19 social distancing measures. The newfound serenity even encourage a coyote to make an appearance near the Golden Gate bridge. Venice, Italy suffers from severe water pollution. It is a popular tourist destination, but the resulting trash it amasses is hard on the local environment. However, as the nation shut down, the waters in the area became cleaner than ever. The canals of Venice cleared and schools of fish are now reportedly being seen.
Odisha beach in India saw the return of thousands of Olive Ridley Sea Turtles to lay their eggs. This turtle is an endangered species. Last year, when the pollution at the beach became severe, the rare sea turtle did not show up to lay their eggs. However, the shutdown of the beach meant fewer people and less trash this year, ensuring the return of the endangered turtle.
With zoos providing constant updates on their animals on the internet, people are no longer missing out on what these facilities have to offer. The Seoul Grand Park has launched ‘All kinds of List’. It tells stories about various animals such as Black-tailed prairie dog, Capybara, Crested Porcupine, etc. You can check this list out on the Seoul Grand Park website. The Shedd Aquarium uploaded a video of their penguins wandering around the aquarium. In the video, the penguins meet the beluga and watch a flock of fish. You can watch these videos on Shedd aquarium’s official YouTube account.
COVID-19 is changing daily activities on Earth. Animals in the zoo are having a stress-free life, with no tourists to get in their way. Animals in the wild are enjoying a larger area to roam with no humans in the parks and streets. They are happy on Earth because the humans who inhabit it with them, have disappeared. We can only hope that humans and animals will continue to coexist this peacefully, even after the COVID-19 crisis is over.
|▲ Penguin from Shedd Aquarium is visiting a dolphin while Aquarium is closed to the public (Photo from Shedd Aquarium)|
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