Kentucky Down Under zookeepers work to keep animals safe during pandemic

HORSE CAVE, Ky. – Harley White is one of Kentucky Down Under’s senior zookeepers.

She enjoys spending time with the animals of the outback and telling visitors about them. Covid-19 has caused the zoo to close, meaning there are no visitors to share the experience with. This doesn’t mean zookeepers like White aren’t still hard at work.

“Covid-19 has just been a mess really. It’s taken a toll on small business in our county. Luckily for us, we still get to come to work every day and feed and take care of our animals. It kind of helps us out because we get to spend more time with the animals,” White said.

While no visitors mean more quality time can be spent with the animals, it also means there’s less funding to work with, causing the zoo to dip into reserve money. Additionally, zookeepers pitch in to provide the animals with what they need.

“We have a lot of money saved and put back. We have three senior zookeepers that cares deeply for each and every animal here, so we like to bring in meats and things like that to make donations ourselves,” White said.

A tiger at the Bronx zoo recently tested positive for the coronavirus, meaning zoos are taking extra precautions to keep the animals safe. This includes working with fewer zookeepers and washing hands between handling animals.

While there’s more time for quality interaction, White said the zookeepers and animals miss interacting with visitors.

“I miss interacting with the customers and seeing the happy faces that come through here. It’s just great to bring happiness to other people like that,” White said.