Six projects to do when your facility is closed to the public

We are living in some crazy times right now due to the impact COVID-19 is having on our lives. One of the major impacts it has had is forcing the mass closure of non essential businesses all over the world including many Zoos and Aquariums. While it may be disheartening for animal care staff to not see any visitors roaming the facility, this situation can be taken advantage of as being closed to the public does have some benefits. Seeing as how we may be closed for a while, here are six ideas for projects that can be undertaken while your facility is closed to the public:

  1. Exhibit redesign/ refresh
    • One of the main benefits of their being no public at your facility is that you can do major overhauls of exhibits without worrying about animals being visible all day or making the exhibit look nice at the end of the day. You can rip out all the perching/furniture in an exhibit one day and then the next day replace it all without having to worry about the public seeing a barren exhibit. Exhibit redesigns can also be a ton of fun, as well as being one of the best forms of enrichment there is! So get out there and get creative!
  2. Try out non-natural enrichment
    • Most animal care facilities have relatively strict rules regarding the use of non-natural enrichment in the view of the public. With the public being gone, now is the perfect time to get approval for some of those non-natural enrichment items you’ve always wanted to use. Some ideas for you to try: Different sized boxes, paper mâché, phone books, bottles and jugs.
  3. New feeding schedules
    • Many facilities have scheduled feeding times around keeper talks, but since there aren’t any keeper talks without any visitors, take this time to mix up the feeding schedules of the animals you are working with.
  4. Access to holding all day
    • Some facilities have policies about certain animals being “off display” during opening hours. But with no public around you can easily switch up the animals routine by giving them access to their holdings or other off display areas. Mix it up further by putting a bunch of enrichment back there or even doing feedings in their holdings where they are not used to it.
  5. Deep cleans
    • Since you can keep animals off exhibit for longer then you would usually be able to with public being around, take this time to do some “deep cleaning” around their exhibit, change substrates, scrub in those hard to reach areas and make the exhibit shine for when the zoo reopens.
  6. Enrichment installation
    • Have a big enrichment project/ device to install in an exhibit? Now is the time put it in and test it out! Think of some things that would be hard to put in when the zoo is open and be creative!

I hope some of these projects can liven up your days and get your mind off of everything that is happening around the world today. Thanks to all of the amazing animal care staff that are all still going into work, trying to provide the best for the animals under their care. Stay healthy out there!

Also, being stuck at home gives you a lot of time for some extra reading! Check out my other blog articles HERE and check out our resources page for even more reading HERE. Don’t feel like reading? Check out our new podcast! Available on iTunes, Spotify, and Google Play.

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