CAPE MAY COURT HOUSE, N.J. (WPVI) — Feeding a 20-foot-tall giraffe by no means will get outdated for Veterinarian Alexander Ernst from the Cape Could County Park & Zoo.

“If you happen to had been to ask me once I was 10 years outdated, what I might have wished to do, that is what I might have stated I wished to do,” Dr. Ernst stated.

Working with roughly 500 animals spanning 200 completely different species by no means ceases to be an intimate expertise. Nonetheless, right now final 12 months, the veterinarian discovered himself alone with these critters in an empty zoo.

After we shut down round this time final 12 months we weren’t actually positive what that meant,” Ernst stated in mild of the novel coronavirus pandemic that took root in March of 2020. “There was no one right here. The sector journeys and the college journeys was all gone.”

It was a saddening expertise for the higher zoo group, given how vital in-person experiences are for a kid’s schooling.

“And never solely did we miss it, however the animals did, too,” Ernst stated. “We positively noticed some behavioral adjustments that indicated they did not actually know what was taking place right here.”

However, the Cape Could County Park & Zoo picked up digital content material creation as an avenue to achieve visitors. Even one 12 months into the pandemic, the group nonetheless produces movies for Tik Tok, YouTube, and Fb to proceed entertaining and educating of us close to and much.

However as winter turns to spring, zoo employees is concentrated on making a protected and immersive in-person expertise for visitors popping out of their figurative hibernations.

“We’re full steam forward,” stated Ernst. “We’re open, we’re persevering with with our initiatives, persevering with to develop and enhance as we all the time have.”

Adults and youngsters alike appear to be having fun with a surroundings that differs from the 4 partitions of their houses.

“I am like a baby at coronary heart,” stated Tina Dippolito from Egg Harbor Township whereas main a celebration of young children by the luxurious landscapes. “I like animals. All of them. So, that is only a good time for me.”

The nice and cozy solar shining on every outside exhibit supplied a way of reduction for others.

“You recognize, we had been grandparents, we had been caught house,” stated Michele Lasko of Jackson Township, New Jersey. “We did not do quite a lot of stuff and now we’re simply beginning to get again into the swing.”

Though it’s supported by the county authorities, the admission-free zoo depends on group donations to outlive.

“For us on the zoo, our bills stay the identical whether or not we’re open to the general public or not,” stated Dr. Ernst. “Our payments had been including up, and we weren’t bringing any income in.”

Fortunately, the generosity of loyal patrons has saved the zoo open for what they hope to be a roaring spring and summer time season this 12 months.

The zoo’s winter hours are 10:00am to three:30pm day by day. For extra info, go to their web site.

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