Giant panda Jiajia eats bamboo with her son at Shanghai Wildlife Park in east China’s Shanghai. (Photo provided to chinadaily.com.cn)
When a truckload of bamboo arrived at the Shanghai Zoo on Wednesday, zoo president Pei Enle was relieved the pandas had enough food for at least the next week.
The two giant pandas, along with 11 red pandas, were close to finishing all the stored bamboo as the zoo’s closed-loop management had been extended for a sixth week due to the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak in Shanghai. .
“The city lockdown has posed challenges for feeding animals in the zoo, especially for the pandas who live specially on bamboo,” Pei said, adding that previously the zoo bought bamboo every week from Anji, Zhejiang Province.
The zoo had stored some 1,000 kilograms of bamboo leaves and 750 kilograms of bamboo shoots before the lockdown began on April 1, and since then keepers have been cutting small bamboo plants around the zoo to supplement supplies.
But it was still not enough to cope with the daily consumption of some 50 kg of bamboo by the pandas.
“With the support of relevant departments, we got a pass to go to Sheshan Forest Farm and cut bamboo there,” Pei said. “The problem is now solved.”
Getting bamboo for the pandas was just one of the many problems Pei and his 300-person team overcame to keep the lives of the zoo’s 5,000 animals going as smoothly as ever.
Every day the animals consume more than 400 kg of vegetables, 250 kg of fruit and 650 kg of meat, as well as other staple foods.
“In addition to quantity, the unique habits of different species forced us to ensure the quality and variety of food,” said Zhou Ying, head of animal food supply.
Since the lockdown, Zhou and his colleagues have constantly been on the phone with different vendors and suppliers to coordinate food purchases.
“Despite rising food prices and unpredictable delivery times, we managed to cope with the problem with our large warehouse and cold storage,” Pei said.
Besides securing food, securing enough manpower to handle day-to-day tasks has been another headache for the zoo since March, when sporadic hotspots from the COVID-19 outbreak caused the shutdown. sudden quarantine of residential compounds, preventing many pet sitters from coming to work. .
Different areas have minimum staffing requirements to provide security, and unknown guards can trigger an animal’s stress response, according to Pei.
The elephant enclosure, for example, requires at least three keepers to tend, as elephants have volatile emotions, and keepers who know the animals know their specific habits and moods and can reduce potential risks.
“Many Chinese Communist Party members and young workers have taken the initiative to stay at their posts in the zoo,” Pei said, adding that about 110 guards have been living in the park since the lockdown.
Many guards slept on office couches or in tents in the areas where they worked. Xiong Zhijie, who works at the amphibian enclosure, has been sleeping in the area since March 27.
“Some colleagues have family to take care of, and I’m fit to stay since I’m single,” said Xiong, whose job includes feeding the snakes, cleaning the turtle enclosure and disinfecting the environment.
Although the zoo is closed to the public, Wu Tong, the zoo’s education and publicity manager, has broadcast 10 live streams and released a series of vlogs over the past month.
Through cameras, tens of thousands of people watched as penguins roam the tranquil park, 2-month-old arctic cubs play in the nursery, baboons fight for dominance and lion cubs learn to hunt prey.
“We want to provide people with a window to peek into animal life while the zoo gate is closed,” Wu said. as to life.”