If you’re a little lonely in lockdown, the animals at Wellington Zoo feel the same.
Staff say the animals have noticed the lack of visitors after the zoo shut its doors as per the country’s alert level four rules.
“Some of the more highly intelligent animals, like the chimpanzees and the dingoes, they definitely do seem to be noticing that the visitors aren’t around. We’ve got a range of enrichment activities that we implement on a daily basis, so we’re just ramping that up," Wellington Zoo's Herbivore & Bird team leader, Glyn Avery, said.
Mr Avery says while the zoo may be closed to the public, keepers are still considered essential workers.
“As we move around the site, the animals do seem to be paying more attention to the staff," he said.
To keep some of the animals preoccupied during the lockdown, the staff got creative, setting up a ball pit in the meerkat enclosure to provide some colourful entertainment.
The zoo’s resident dingoes have also become more inquisitive on their daily walk around the park, stopping to visit the otters and have a sniff of the giraffes – who are also longing for their daily human interactions.
“They’re probably missing people coming in and giving them their leaves at midday."
Mr Avery says staff are making sure the giraffes are getting extra food during the day to make up for the lack of visitors.
He also says it’s not just the animals who have noticed the difference in their day-to-day lives.
“The staff are missing the people and being able to tell the animal stories."
Wellington Zoo will remain closed during the COVID-19 lockdown.