Videos of animals freely roaming here and there on zoos went viral not too long ago. However, it looks like they are getting a little lonely without our smiley and enthusiastic faces.

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Due to the prevailing COVID-19 pandemic, zoos all over the world have been closed, with animals being left on their own except for their keepers. But without being exposed to the hundreds and thousands of visitors they encounter on a daily basis, zoo animals have started to actually ‘look’ for humans.

Zoo Animals Are Feeling ‘Lonely’ Without Visitors, Keepers Say
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Dublin Zoo in Ireland attracts around 1.2 million visitors annually. According to Leo Oosterweghel, director of Dublin Zoo, the animals are ‘more surprised’ to see him now. He said that animals come up and look closely because they’re wondering what has happened to everyone else. This is not a surprise because the animals are very much used to visitors.

Paul Rose, lecturer in animal behavior at the University of Exeter, told BBC News that zoo animals depend on visitors and their engagements for ‘enrichment’ and that it’s advantageous to the animals’ well-being. When this is gone, the animals lack ‘enrichment’.

This is the reason why many animals including rhinos and giraffes have been turning up for their public appearances at Orana Wildlife Park in New Zealand, though no one is there to watch them. Phoenix Zoo is also undergoing similar consequences with keepers spending more time with animals.

The situation has become so bad in Tokyo’s Sumida Aquarium that its staff is requesting the general public to interact with its garden eels via video calls. For more details on visiting the eels, visit the aquarium’s website here.

Zoo Animals Are Feeling ‘Lonely’ Without Visitors, Keepers Say
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