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LISTEN: Beardsley Zoo Puts Safety Guidelines In Place Ahead Of Reopening

Courtesy: Beardsley Zoo
Animal care specialist Bethany Thatcher, in front of the tiger enclosure at Beardsley Zoo

Connecticut’s Beardsley Zoo in Bridgeport plans to reopen on June 1 after closing to visitors back in March because of the coronavirus pandemic. Connecticut Public Radio’s Morning Edition host, Diane Orson, spoke with zoo director Gregg Dancho.

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Here are highlights from their conversation:

On Animal Care Staff Working Through The Shutdown

Animals here have to be taken care of on a seven-day-a-week basis no matter what. We have to take care of them, we have to feed them, we have to give them all of the support they need.

On Animals Most At Risk Of Contracting Coronavirus

We have a full-time veterinary technician on staff. We have a veterinarian that comes in twice a week to check on our animals’ health and welfare. With the coronavirus, there was a possibility that it was going to be something that cats could catch. Our staff [were] wearing masks and wearing gloves the whole time that we’ve been in the shutdown. When it was found out that a tiger contracted it at the Bronx Zoo along with a few other felines, we started putting on gowns and shields. But none of our animals have shown any sign of the illness. None of our staff has shown any sign of the illness.

On What Will Change When The Beardsley Zoo Reopens

We’re going by state guidelines, asking that masks be worn. We’re looking at distances of 6 feet between people. Family groups that have been together can be together, just staying 6 feet away from the next family. You’re going to be buying tickets online, probably a 50% capacity is what the state is allowing us to do. We’re looking at doing two shifts -- you can come in the morning shift or the afternoon shift. We are going to have a pathway through the zoo. Really, the thing that we want to do here is ensure, as much as possible, that our guests, our staff and our animals are safe.

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