As venues across Central New York are thankfully opening up, the Utica Zoo is doing everything possible to keep their animals healthy and free of COVID-19.

According to WIBX: Governor Andrew Cuomo announced that museums and zoos in New York State could move to 50 percent capacity starting April 26. Movie theaters can move to 33 percent capacity on the same day with other precautions in place, and large indoor arenas can increase capacity to 33 percent on May 19.

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Whether face masks are mandatory or not, the Utica Zoo will require them to be worn properly, covering your nose and mouth even while you're outside and social distancing. This is for the safety of all visitors, the specialized and highly trained staff, and the animals who are unable to wear masks. Andrea Heath, Executive Director of the Utica Zoo, tells us:

Yes, masks are still required, for visitors, staff, and animal safety. There have been confirmed cases of COVID in animals in other zoos so we will continue to take these precautions.

NPR reports that a troop of eight gorillas at the safari park tested positive for the coronavirus on January 11, 2021, at the San Diego Zoo. They were quarantined, received treatment, and are now recovering.

Since the outbreak among the gorillas at the safari park, the zoo decided to vaccinate its apes. Six bonobos, four orangutans, and three gorillas have since gotten shots. [NPR]

The vaccine was generated by the veterinary pharmaceutical company Zoetis. The U.S. Department of Agriculture approved the vaccine for experimental use by the zoo. Heath says the Utica Zoo has no plans to vaccinate its animals.

Thankfully, none of our animals have shown signs of being infected with the virus. We have both monkeys and apes, as well as big cats. primates, raccoons, and ferrets which are all highly susceptible to the disease.

Face masks are doing their job at the Utica Zoo, so that's what they will continue doing until further notice.

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