MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Humans are not the only ones in isolation right now. With the Como Zoo closed, some of the animals are enjoying the quiet time to themselves — while others are missing their daily visitors.

A place normally open every day of the year is forced to close for the first time, due to the closure of all non-essential businesses.

Allison Jungheim is the senior zoo keeper at Como Zoo in St. Paul.

“We’ve never actually been closed to the public in the 19 years that I’ve been here,” Jungheim said.

She and the other zoo keepers are the only audience these animals have had in the last three weeks.

“This is Chloe, she’s a sloth,” she said.

And Chloe, like many of the animals, are getting a lot of one on one attention right now.

“We’re using this opportunity to really work with her a little bit more, make sure she’s comfortable still being handled, and also working with her to come on and off her tree on a regular basis,” she said.

Jungheim says some animals are loving the isolation, while others miss swimming up to the hands against the glass.

“Some of them do better with it than others, our orangutans kind of thrive on that human interaction,” she said.

Social distancing has many layers at the Como Zoo. The keepers are divided up into groups caring only for specific animals, which is for the safety of staff and the animals.

“The primates staff has had to social distance from the great apes staff and all the small primates because it’s thought that they could potentially get COVID-19,” she said.

The lack of crowds has given staff more time to clean the pools and plant vegetation. With the goal of being ready the re-open the moment it’s safe.

Although the Como zoo is free, it relies heavily on donations. So you can adopt an animal like the turtles or a plant or more than one animal and that will help them out during this closure.

Como Zoo is also helping parents and students stuck at home. Every day during the week, Como Zoo goes live at 1:30 p.m. on Facebook where they showcase a new animal and lead an educational craft you can do at home.

Marielle Mohs

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