Mark Tabone and Loren Elliott decided to move away from their families and into student accommodation to ensure the animals are well looked after during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Following the outbreak of Coronavirus, senior staff at the zoo worked with Northumberland College to put in place animal welfare plans which saw over four months-worth of food pre-ordered for the 300 species of birds, reptiles and mammals.
Mark, lead keeper at Kirkley Hall Zoo, said: “The decision to move on site was a hard one to make, but knowing I can keep on looking after the animals at the zoo was very important to me.
“It has also let me help my family at home that are now following social isolation for 12 weeks.”
The keepers will be assisted by their colleagues who will be practising social distancing during their duties as well as farming and equine apprentices from Northumberland College who have also moved on-site for the lambing season and to look after horses.
Steven Sykes, animal resource manager, added: “The help and support of the keeper team here at Northumberland College during times like this is vital.
“Their commitment and desire to ensure their animals are looked after during this horrible pandemic is just wonderful.”
The whole keeper team have all been practising social distancing whilst at work to keep themselves safe.
The decision to move on site was not an easy one, having to leave family and loved ones but they felt it was important to ensure the welfare of the animals in their care.
Despite the zoo’s closure, the team are using digital tools engaging with current students on Northumberland College’s animal management and veterinary programmes continue to build their understanding whilst the college has halted face-to-face delivery.
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