There are many inspirational stories of individuals and companies coping with the restrictions imposed by the Coronavirus crisis, but Connecticut’s Beardsley Zoo has a few of its own. Although Zoo gates are closed to the public, staff members continue to care for the Zoo’s animals, carefully following CDC and State of Connecticut safety guidelines. The Zoo has more than 300 animals on grounds, many of them endangered species. The animal care staff must feed, clean, offer training and provide enrichment each day to a diverse group of animals, from tigers and alligators to monkeys and owls, along with dozens more.
On Friday, April 3, the Zoo is launching a new interactive opportunity for children and families. “Do You Have a Zoo at Your House?” asks children to draw pictures and write letters for their favorite Zoo animals or take photos of how they’ve created a zoo of their own at home, using plush animals, blocks, Legos or costumes. The Zoo’s website (www.beardsleyzoo.org) will include a page where the children’s art, letters and photos will be posted for all to enjoy, as well as featured on the Zoo’s social media accounts.
The Education staff has pivoted from on-grounds education programming to internet-based, Distance Learning initiatives for students of all ages. Zoo educators have filmed a variety of Next Generation Science Standards-compliant videos, making them available on the Zoo website, via social media, to broadcasting partners, and as resources for the state’s outreach to teachers. The Zoo offers Facebook Live sessions every Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday at 2:00 p.m., with a different focus each day: Science-based learning from the Education staff, a Zookeeper Chat, or a visit with Zoo Director Gregg Dancho and an animal of his choice.
Staff members are rising to the need of their friends and co-workers. One of the Farmyard’s Animal Care Specialists sewed colorful masks to help protect her colleagues. The Zoo’s Education Curator, in addition to overseeing on-grounds STREAM videos, is filming backyard wildlife for schoolchildren. The Peacock Café’s chef has locked the doors to the restaurant but is serving staff free meals through a side window. Photographer volunteers have turned photos taken earlier into coloring sheets for kids, available on the Zoo website.
As a 501 (c) (3) non-profit, the Zoo relies on ticket sales, school visits, memberships, education program fees, donations and meeting and rental revenue to operate. Being closed is resulting in a significant impact on the operating budget. Any size donation to our emergency operating fund will assist in the care of our animals and team members. Donations can be sent to: https://www.beardsleyzoo.org/emergency-fund.html
About Connecticut’s Beardsley ZooLet your curiosity run wild! Connecticut's only zoo, celebrating its 98th year, features 300 animals representing primarily North and South American species. Guests won't want to miss our Amur tigers and leopards, maned wolf family, Brazilian ocelot, Mexican and Red wolves, and Golden lion tamarins. Other highlights include our new Spider Monkey Habitat, Natt Family Red Panda Habitat, South American rainforest with free-flight aviary, the prairie dog exhibit with "pop-up" viewing areas, and the Pampas Plain with Giant anteaters and Chacoan peccaries. Guests can grab a bite at the Peacock Café, eat in the Picnic Grove, and enjoy a ride on our colorful, indoor carousel. For more information, and updates on the Zoo’s closed status, visit beardsleyzoo.org.