Coronavirus closures: Do ZooTampa animals notice we’re not there?


TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) – The staff and the animals of ZooTampa at Lowry Park have, naturally, had different reactions to the absence of visitors due to the coronavirus pandemic and statewide safer-at-home order.

“We do miss interactions with the guests,” said general curator Chris Massaro, before presenting a yellow pepper to a rhinoceros named Jaime. “It’s a big part of our job, to be the voice on behalf of the wild life here at ZooTampa.”

Whether the animals appreciate that voice is another conversation, as we explored in the above video. Overall, some of the furry residents are surprised by the silence, but it appears others may be enjoying the off-days.

“It’s definitely quiet in the zoo,” Chris told us, now brandishing an apple for his 4,000-pound friend. “They seem quite comfortable. I think they’re enjoying a little time off – a little quiet time.”

Despite the animals’ indifference to networking each day, the employees know the truth behind the empty tranquility.

“Those front gates sales are extremely important to the zoo, certainly for everything we do with wildlife here at ZooTampa. Not having the gates open makes it very difficult.”

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