Big cats have big appetites so this zoo is asking for community support to help keep their animals fed during the coronavirus lockdown.
Big cats have big appetites so this zoo is asking for community support to help keep their animals fed during the coronavirus lockdown.

Zoo held captive by social distancing

TASMANIA Zoo is asking for community support in order to keep operating as the coronavirus pandemic forces it to keep its doors closed until at least July.

The popular zoo, at Riverside north of Launceston, closed its doors in late March, and owner Rochelle Penney said they were starting to feel the pinch from having no income.

Big cats have big appetites, and Tasmania Zoo goes through a tonne of meat a week feeding its carnivores alone, to say nothing of feeding the rest of its 100 species of animals.

Tasmania Zoo owner Rochelle Penney with new cheetahs, Zari and Tafara. Picture: PATRICK GEE
Tasmania Zoo owner Rochelle Penney with new cheetahs, Zari and Tafara. Picture: PATRICK GEE

Ms Penney said they were lucky to have some savings under their belt, but they had set up a GoFundMe page for people to make donations to help meet the ongoing costs of feeding the animals.

And in an effort to keep their gates open in a virtual sense, they have started producing live webcasts every few days, featuring a different animal each time, and ending with a keeper taking questions from viewers on Facebook.

"Eaglecrest Technologies contacted us to offer to help us out and set us up with a camera," Ms Penney said.

"On Mother's Day we did a live stream of the meerkats and the other day we featured our marmosets. It has been quite popular."

Tasmania Zoo owner Rochelle Penney with a caracal. Picture: PATRICK GEE
Tasmania Zoo owner Rochelle Penney with a caracal. Picture: PATRICK GEE

The zoo also took possession of a pair of cheetahs just a month before they were forced to close, and they are keen to show off their new big cats in any way they can.

Ms Penney said opening the zoo for just 10 visitors at a time would be unfeasible, and they would have to wait until restrictions were lifted, hopefully in July, before reopening. They are also hoping to receive Federal Government assistance through the $94.6 million zoos and aquariums funding.

To find out more about the zoo's upcoming live streams and GoFundMe campaign, visit tasmaniazoo.com.au or search for them on Facebook.

A cheetah at Tasmania Zoo in the state's North. Picture: PATRICK GEE
A cheetah at Tasmania Zoo in the state's North. Picture: PATRICK GEE

Originally published as Zoo held captive by social distancing


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