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Happy Monday, News Viewers and welcome to Free Range — all animals all the time, oh OK, how about All Life on the Planet all the Time or The Environment and Other Living Things — in other words, we’re wide open and ready to talk about what’s happening in your world.

Two current interests in the animal kingdom-– With anticipated variants arriving, should we get our pets vaccinated for COVID? And now that Spring is upon us, Zoos are starting to reopen; this means crowds and the usual concern for the animals, because the few cases of animal COVID have appeared to be transmitted from human to animal. . . .

The Tiger is believed to be the first known case of an animal becoming infected in the US. Later, eight gorillas at San Diego Zoo in California became the first known great apes to test positive for Covid-19. In both these cases, it was suspected that the animals became sick after being exposed to a zookeeper that had the virus. They are reported to have recovered after suffering mild symptoms,

A small number of cats and dogs have been reported to be infected in several countries. The first case of a cat testing positive in the UK was confirmed last July. At the time, the UK’s Chief Veterinary Officer Christine Middlemiss said: “This is a very rare event, with infected animals detected to date only showing mild clinical signs and recovering within a few days.

So do we need a vaccine for pets? There are differing opinions on this. Take cats and dogs, for example. Scientists don’t believe they play an important role in transmitting the virus to humans, so some question the need to vaccinate them at all. The US Department of Agriculture (USDA), which regulates pet vaccines, has taken a similar stance. (Continued in the BBC article )

In terms of other animals, scientists agree that, given the susceptibility of mink to Covid-19, there is merit in developing a vaccine for them. There is some evidence that COVID has jumped from mink to humans,

The threat to great apes has also prompted concern, as they are known to be susceptible to catching respiratory diseases from humans. Conservationists are particularly worried about the danger to gorillas, which have populations that are listed as critically endangered.


Zoos Opening:

Zoos and animal parks are getting the go ahead to open again. Maybe it’s just me, but it looks as if neither the rhino or the human are thrilled about that fact (judging by the picture below.),

Mark Godwin is head keeper at the park; Animals at Cotswold Wildlife Park will have to readapt to visitors when zoos reopen next week.

Pictured is Mark Godwin of the Cotswold Wildlife Park in the UK . .. .The park was attracting 400,000 visitors each year pre-COVID, though bookings for later this month are now on an advance basis only, to help staff manage the return of the paying public. Baby rhino calf Dora was born last July and has been enjoying the solitude of the park, alongside her mother Nancy.

Giraffes graze on trees inside the park

The park has been shut for months with no income, though staff here have been busy caring for the animals and working on maintenance projects.”They’re used to having the place fairly quiet now, so it’ll be interesting to start with,” Godwin told Sky News,

On the US side of the pond, the National Zoo, along with the rest of the Smithsonian, will probably start reopening in May or June. The date is not announced.

The museum is taking its cues from the Biden administration, which is sounding the alarm about a potential fourth wave of cases, Feldman said. Nationally, coronavirus cases have increased 13 percent, with the seven-day average of new cases exceeding 63,000 for the first time in nearly a month, according to Washington Post data. The city’s cases have increased, too.“

Many zoos in the US are open now but are requiring reservations and tickets to get in as a way of controlling crowds. Zoos in individual states are will give visitors information about mask wearing and limited hours..


Source: SkyNews Washington Post ZooAmerica The BBC