Park grabs virus challenge by horns

Helping animals adjust to the lack of noise and colour is one of a few challenges staff at Monarto Safari Park are taking by the horns during the coronavirus outbreak.

Since the park's gates closed to the public on Tuesday, March 25, the zoo's keepers and staff have been putting their imaginations to the test so the changes around the park are not as big of a shock to the animals.

Monarto Safari Park director Peter Clark said keepers had been able to spend extra time with their animals and the conservation programs had still been able to continue.

He said as the animals were used to having people around, extra enrichment and socialising was needed during the "strange" period.

"We're a bit lucky at Monarto because we have a lot of space, so we can vary what happens for the animals every day by going to different areas of the park," Mr Clark said.

Some animals needed more attention from others, he said.

The chimpanzees, for example, rely heavily on social structure and stimulation, so extra elements like television screens and mirrors would be introduced in their space. The rhinos are being given large toys to play with, and there is more focus on carcass feeding for the wild dogs.

But it is not just the animals who will be fed in a new way during the park's temporary closure; staff have brainstormed ideas to keep fans of the park connected to the animals through content on social media and Monarto's website.

Live streams from animal spaces will also be broadcast on Monarto Safari Park's Facebook page.

"There will be live Q&A sessions on Facebook, and keeper talks. At Easter, there will be a keeper talk on bilbies," he said.

He looked forward to the park reopening so the public can see their favourite animals again.

"It is a testing time for everybody, and it will be interesting when we get visitors back how the animals react," he said.

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This story Park grabs challenge by the horns first appeared on The Murray Valley Standard.