The Wuhan Zoo in Hubei province may have been closed for over two months due to the novel coronavirus, but local residents staying indoors still have a chance to see their beloved animals online through livestreams.
Chunqiao and Pangniu, two giant pandas in the zoo, remain the most popular animals among netizens who watch the livestreams on Weibo.
Hippos, flamingoes and penguins have also received a lot of likes and comments.
Wang Shengkai, a publicity worker at the zoo, said that through livestreaming the zoo wants to offer more entertainment to people who were asked to stay indoors for epidemic control.
All the 1,000-odd animals of about 100 species are well-fed and housed in sanitized areas despite the outbreak, Wang said.
The zoo was closed on Jan 22, one day before authorities announced the lockdown of the city for epidemic prevention and control.
Despite challenges such as animal feed delivery and traffic controls, the zoo asked its staff to work in shifts to take care of the animals.
“During the outbreak, we ensured that two workers managed a venue for big animals while one was responsible for the venue that houses small animals,” Wang said, adding that all the feeding and animal-keeping practices have remained unchanged.
Regarding the food supply for the animals, Wang said the zoo has generally had no difficulties.
Traffic control caused some problems at the beginning of the lockdown, he said, but they were resolved after city authorities granted the zoo transportation passes.
The zoo has also taken concrete measures to check the body temperatures of its employees and disinfect enclosures regularly to make sure the animals live in a safe environment, according to Wang.
Wang Zhiyong, a young zookeeper responsible for keeping the pandas, said he and a colleague use disinfectants or ultraviolet lamps to sterilize the panda enclosure every week.
“Every three days, we will have fresh bamboo transported from other areas to feed Chunqiao and Pangniu, so they won’t have any problems with food shortages,” he said.
Dong Lei, a penguin keeper, said that due to the city lockdown, he had difficulties getting small fish to feed the birds, so he asked for help through social media in early February.
“Some fishery companies lent a helping hand and donated small fish to us,” Dong said, adding that a penguin needs around 0.75 kilograms of small fish per day.
“Since the traffic problem has been relieved, we have access to adequate food for the penguins,” he said.