Local Government Magazine
Coronavirus

Quiet Times at The Zoo

Caption: NPDC Brookland’s Zoo Keeper Jenny Bucksmith with Areta the kune pig.

Meantime, down at the zoo …

The New Plymouth District Council’s Brooklands Zoo and animal welfare teams have been hard at work during lockdown with animal control officers are classed as essential workers.

NPDC’s Brooklands Zoo is home to about 80 animals and has been operating since 1965.

Zoo management brought in split shifts to minimise staff to staff contact while one animal control officer has been rostered on each day to care for dogs at the Rifle Range Road dog pound or deal with calls.

The council’s animal welfare team manages 3500 cases a year including reuniting owners with their lost dogs and dealing with wandering stock.

NPDC Animal Control coordinator Karl Osten says his team has been looking after 27 dogs at the pound including a new mum with her seven-week-old puppies and they also impounded a wandering sheep last week.

“Our focus is looking after the dogs at the pound but we are here to help as well if the police, for example, needed assistance,” says Karl.

“We’re still trying to reunite dogs with their owners and we’ll respond to any dog attack issues.”

NPDC Zoo head keeper Louise Mckenna says the only difference is they are not holding any keeper talks and while the animals’ behaviour hasn’t changed, the animals have noticed how quiet it is without the 113,000 visitors who enjoy the free zoo each year.

The keepers’ routines have changed a little with no visitors around. “We’ve been doing things in a different order most days, and the animals have enjoyed that change to the daily routine as much as we have while receiving the same high level of care,” says Louise.

The council made special thanks to the vet team, fresh food suppliers, waste removal contractors and cleaners for their support during the lockdown.

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