Zoos Take Steps to Prevent Animals from Getting the Coronavirus
American zoos are taking steps to protect their animals from catching the new coronavirus from humans. The steps include many of the same measures used to slow the spread of the virus in humans. These include social distancing and cleaning shared equipment. Vaccines have also been used on animals.
At the San Diego Zoo, a female orangutan became the first ape in the world to get a coronavirus vaccine in January. The vaccine was given after a group of gorillas started showing signs of infection and later tested positive for the coronavirus. The orangutan, named Karen, received two shots of a vaccine made by Zoetis, a New Jersey company that manufactures drugs for animals. Nine other primates at the San Diego Zoo have been fully vaccinated: five bonobos and four orangutans. Four more animals -- one bonobo and three gorillas -- got their first shots this month and will get a second in April.
Nadine Lamberski is the wildlife health officer for the San Diego Zoo. She told the Associated Press that zoo officials acted quickly to vaccinate the animals in an effort to protect other great apes. The outbreak was linked to a zookeeper who was infected but had no signs of the virus. Seven gorillas got minor cases and recovered. But one older silverback gorilla developed the lung disease pneumonia, likely caused by the virus, as well as heart disease. He was put on medicines and received an antibody treatment to block the virus from infecting cells. About 36 zoos in the United States and other countries have placed orders for the Zoetis vaccine. It is meant to work on particular animal species." We will jump at the opportunity to get the Zoetis vaccine for our own great apes," said Oakland Zoo official Alex Herman. She is ordering 100 injections.
Zoetis got permission from the U.S. Department of Agriculture to provide the vaccines on an experimental basis to the San Diego Zoo. The company will need to seek the same permission to provide the shots to additional zoos.
Scientists believe the new coronavirus likely started in bats before jumping to humans.Now many researchers worry that humans may unknowingly infect other animal species.Animal health experts say great apes such as gorillas are especially at risk of becoming infected.These animals share 98 percent of their DNA with humans.So far, confirmed coronavirus cases include gorillas, tigers and lions at zoos; domestic cats and dogs; farmed mink, and at least one wild mink in Utah. Scientists have also experimentally shown that ferrets, racoon dogs and white-tailed deer are at risk, although pigs and cows are not.
Another concern is that virus spread among other species could produce new versions, or variants.In Denmark, workers at a mink farm unknowingly infected the animals.As the coronavirus spread among the mink, it mutated and humans became infected with the new variant.In an effort to control the situation, the government ordered millions of mink to be killed.
Scott Weese is a microbiologist at Ontario Veterinary College in Canada. He told the AP that "mutations happen when there's a lot of disease transfer going on between animals."Since the outbreak, the San Diego Zoo has been using a lot of fans at its indoor primate areas to improve air flow.Zoo workers also wear face coverings and limit their time spent inside with the animals.
British Music Festival Seek Ways to Continue in Pandemic
As coronavirus restrictions ease and social distancing rules change,creative ideas and careful planning will be important for the survival of musical festivals around the world.
With plenty of outdoor space, the United Kingdom's Glyndebourne festival may be one of the luckier ones.
Founded in 1934 by John Christie and his wife Audrey Mildmay at their country home,the yearly Glyndebourne festival is now a world-class event.Performances take place in a 1,200-seat opera house set in large gardens with a beautiful lake.Women and men enjoy putting on their nice clothes to attend.During 90-minute time periods, the crowd spreads out onto the grounds to eat food, or picnic, on the grass.
In 2020, the COVID-19 crisis forced Glyndebourne to cancel the sold-out festival and give back the money for tickets.The rural nature of the area may have helped the festival survive.Organizers learned lessons after another crisis – a 2001 outbreak of the foot-and-mouth animal disease that hurt British farming.With large parts of the countryside shut down to prevent the spread of the disease, the festival was under threat.It ended up going ahead,but the crisis turned out to be a wake-up call - something that warns people of a problem or danger. Since that time, Glyndebourne has put efforts into building up savings. That money helped the festival get through 2020.It will also allow the organization to make some financial plans for 2021, said Glyndebourne's director, Sarah Hopwood.
"We are going to be drawing on reserves to make this happen," she said. "It's about people. It's about keeping our staff employed,it's about providing work … and it's about engaging with our audiences."For now, 600 tickets per performance,or about 50 percent of the amount the event can hold, will go on sale. Officials decided this would permit enough social distancing to hold a safe event. Hopwood said more tickets would be released for sale later if government rules permitted.
The festival runs from May 20 to August 29. Rehearsals, events where people prepare to perform, are particularly difficult. In normal years, up to five companies, or about 1,000 people, would arrive at the same time before the festival. Performers coming from abroad would stay in local housing. This year, rehearsals have to be spaced out. Performers based in other countries face quarantine and must take COVID-19 tests. "There will be bumps along the way, and we will be ready to adapt as we have to," said Hopwood. This year's festival will have works by Wagner, Mozart, and three new productions of operas by Janacek, Rossini and Verdi. Social distancing will be in force during rehearsals, but the restrictions might be eased by the time performances take place.Directors and performers are preparing for several different situations, Hopwood said. "We may have productions going from a fully socially distanced rehearsal room onto stage where suddenly people are allowed to embrace."