The Brookfield Zoo is home to nearly 5,000 creatures big and small. If you’re missing the animals at the zoo, well, turns out the feeling is mutual.
Tim Sullivan, Brookfield Zoo curator of birds, said on days when the temperatures reached the 60s and 70s, the zoo can see anywhere from 10,000 to 15,000 guests.
But nowadays behind the gates at Brookfield Zoo, there was silence and a busy sloth bear.
Lion brothers Brutus and Titus still keep watch from their rocks. They arrived at the zoo on March 17, just two days before the shutdown.
“Bright sunny day here so they’re out sunning themselves and doing what they do best,” he said.
There was a bit more activity at the penguin habitat.
“Total here living at the zoo, we have 28 penguins. The keepers come in and clean in the morning they feed at 10:30. The penguins like their routine,” Tim Snyder, Brookfield Zoo, curator of birds
That routine includes daily encounters with guests at the zoo. Even after weeks in solitude, just swimming along, when the door goes up, the penguins appear, eager to mingle.
“During the encounters the penguins get to decide if they want to participate or not, but we have an encounter room the guests come in and sit down. Some of them more so than others,” Snyder said.
Like Pepe, who’s particularly social. He was first in line on Monday.
“Right now they are a little confused because they are waiting at the door, but we don’t take them in to do the encounters so it’s a little bit different from what they are used to. At first they were like, ‘What’s going on? This is different.’ But they take it in stride, just like we do,” Snyder said.
Snyder said the animals’ moods haven’t really changed. They still go through the day, they still interact. Now, he said, when people do come through the building, the animals have a tendency to be more alert and they’ll run over to the viewing areas to see who’s there.
“I think we entertain them more than they entertain us,” Snyder said.
“Animals are interesting. They are very adaptive. They’re used to varying amounts of guests so to them they know nothing about what is going on in our world they just think maybe it’s a longer winter,” Sullivan said.