Giving Back During COVID-19: Zoos, Aquariums, and Sanctuaries Support Their Communities

During the course of the COVID-19 pandemic, many zoos, aquariums, and sanctuaries have sought ways to support their local communities.

As the need for personal protective equipment (PPE), cleaning supplies, and medical equipment became apparent, multiple facilities contributed portions of their backstock to local medical centers, including N95 masks, gowns, gloves, disinfectants, and ventilators.

  • Akron Zoo, OH donated 1400 N95 masks to their local emergency management agency and is exploring modifications to their large animal ventilator with appropriate experts for possible use by the human medical community. (4/2/2020)
  • Binder Park Zoo, MI donated a variety of medical supplies to their local hospital (4/6/2020)
  • Performing Animal Welfare Society (PAWS), CA  donated PPE to their local medical center. (4/9/2020)
  • Sierra Safari Zoo, NV donated 1400 N95 masks to their local regional medical center. (3/31/2020)

In hard-hit New York City, the Bronx Zoo has offered their parking lot as a staging site for hundreds of ambulances arriving from around the country. (4/1/2020)

Zoos have offered to assist with drive-up testing.

  • Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium, PA hosted drive-up testing in its parking lot, which allowed for the screening of hundreds of individuals. (3/24/2020)
  • Zoo Knoxville, TN hosted testing in its parking lot, in conjunction with several local entities. (4/2/2020)

Facilities with advanced veterinary facilities are offering equipment to aid with testing.

  • Shedd Aquarium, IL “…has loaned out laboratory equipment to the Illinois Department of Public Health so it can be used for COVID-19 tests…” (4/3/2020)

Following closure, many zoos had unused mobile handwashing stations, which they have contributed to assist with at-risk populations.

  • Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo, NE donated mobile handwashing stations to a local homeless mission (3/30/2020)

Sites that have closed their concessions donated backstock of human food items to food banks and homeless missions.

  • San Antonio Zoo, TX donated perishable food items to local food banks (3/17/2020)
  • SeaWorld San Antonio, TX donated “two box trucks” of food to the local food bank (3/19/2020)

As spring arrives, many zoos have extraordinary gardens blooming. In order to boost morale at hospitals and nursing homes, some zoos have been sending flower arrangements.

  • Cincinnati Zoo, OH sent 150 flower bouquets with notes of gratitude to a children’s hospital and nursing homes (4/20/2020)