Omaha Zoo Works to Protect Great Apes From COVID-19

March 25, 2020, 5:15 p.m. ·

Covid-19 Update Feature

Staff at the Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium in Omaha are still working to take care of animals there, including measures to protect great apes and small primates that may be susceptible to COVID-19.

Staff at the zoo have mostly split their teams in half, where each group works on a different schedule and the groups do not interact. This is meant to prevent all staff on a team becoming ill and leaving animals without care.

The zoo is worried about a lack of childcare impacting staffing during school closures, and may implement a later shift so that parents could split child care time with their partners and come to work in the evenings.

Dan Cassidy is Vice President of Animal Management at the Henry Doorly Zoo. He said the zoo is also working to protect its great apes and small primates, who may be able to contract COVID-19 from humans.

“Since they can get some other flu-type illness from us, we think there’s a possibility that they could get it from us,” Cassidy said. “So we’re doing everything we can to protect them. So far we haven’t seen any issues with any of the great apes or the smaller primates”

The zoo has paused all non-essential interactions with these animals, and keepers routinely wear personal protective equipment while interacting with apes and other primates. Cassidy does not believe other zoo animals can contract the virus.