Animals at London Zoo are ‘lonely’ in lockdown as they miss interacting with human visitors, keepers say.
London Zoo closed its doors in December for the second time this year, taking away the steady source of attention and stimulation hundreds of species are familiar with.
While some of the more indifferent animals, such as the Asiatic lions and Sumatran tigers, appear not to have changed their behaviours, keepers have ‘definitely noticed a difference’ in others, such as ‘born people-watcher’ Jimmy the gibbon.
Zookeeper Daniel Simmonds told the BBC: ‘He spends his day looking at people and interacting.
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‘Nobody looking for Jimmy is not Jimmy’s world, he likes seeing different people, different shoes, different clothes.
‘It’s kind of sad to see him missing what he loves the most. We can see them showing a huge amount of interest if they see any human.
‘These guys are used to having, on a normal year, well over a million people coming to look at them and for us to take that away from them, through lockdown, is not normal.’
Other animals that seem to be missing visitors are the Humboldt penguins, Western lowland gorillas and Pygmy goats.
Zookeepers have remained on site throughout lockdown to look after the residents and maintain their normal routines as much as possible.
As well as disturbing the animals, the second lockdown has put the financial future of the zoo at risk.
Zoological Society of London, which runs both London Zoo and Whipsnade Zoo in Bedfordshire, has struggled to fund the food and care of more than 20,000 animals without a regular source of income.
Speaking to The Telegraph, ZSL Director General, Dominic Jermey said: ‘Closing our doors cuts off our main source of income but we have immoveable outlays; it costs around £1 million a month just to care for and feed the 20,000 animals at our two zoos, but our essential zookeepers and vets cannot be furloughed, nor do we qualify to access the Zoo Fund.
‘The animals continue to receive world-class care, and our zookeepers are ensuring their routines are not disrupted – while Jimmy the gibbon is definitely missing showing off for our visitors, his keepers are making sure he’s getting lots of extra attention.
‘We’re asking everyone to consider supporting us – be that a donation, buying a gift ticket for a future visit or becoming a member, there are lots of ways to help.’
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