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Staff at Tayto Park 'socially distancing from zoo animals'

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Park and animal manager Lee Donohue says staff are keeping their distance

Park and animal manager Lee Donohue says staff are keeping their distance

Park and animal manager Lee Donohue says staff are keeping their distance

Tayto Park staff are 'social distancing' from animals after a tiger fell sick with coronavirus in the Bronx Zoo in New York.

Staff at the Co Meath theme park's zoo are taking every precaution to protect not only staff but animals as the crisis continues.

"We saw a case in the Bronx Zoo, so we lock animals out of the house before we clean so the animals are not in direct contact with us," said park and animal manager Lee Donohue.

"We maintain a social distance from the animals. In terms of primates, we have a minimum of three to four metres.

"If dealing with big cats and leopards, we have to do that anyway, as they're dangerous.

"If we have a two-person lift to lift heavy bales, we have dust masks, goggles, gloves and we are being very vigilant about hand hygiene, how it affects the animals."

Transmission

Last week, a tiger at the Bronx Zoo was infected with Covid-19 in what was believed to be a case of human-to-cat transmission.

It was believed to be the first case of a tiger being infected by the virus, according to the Federal Agriculture Department in the US, and it was understood a number of other tigers and lions were showing symptoms.

Regardless of how rare the infection was, the staff have shown they aren't taking any chances and are shielding the animals from close interaction.

All measures are also being taken to keep staff at a distance from each other too.

"We have to maintain social distancing to protect staff, we have increased PPE - staff wearing face masks, gloves, goggles," Mr Donohue said.

"It's strange, as we have a small team of people who are close to each other but now they're spread out, social distancing, and we have staggered lunch breaks in different canteens."

The zoo section of the park would normally be opening up for the Easter holidays and expecting thousands of visitors. However, due to the closure, all is quiet but this may just be advantageous to breeding.

"That quiet can help. We are definitely feeling positive about the future, we were gearing up for opening in March," Mr Donohue said.

"We're looking forward to a busy season, we normally close after Christmas. Fingers crossed we will open in the summer, with a nice run of good weather. The animals do miss people, particularly the macaws and primates.

"A busy park stimulates and interests the animals. You see the tigers climbing up, scanning the park, just like the leopards."

Mr Donohue oversees the running of the whole zoo and depending on the time of year, staff could be looking after 300 animals.