MIAMI, Fla. – With hundreds of people in and out of Zoo Miami daily, operators know the facility is not immune to the coronavirus outbreak. And this week’s word that 4 staffers have tested positive for COVID-19 solidifies that theory.
The 4 employees are now in quarantine and recovering away from Zoo Miami. 6 other employees are quarantining because of possibly being in close contact with the sick workers. There are close to 500 employees employed at Zoo Miami.
Officials said the zoo does not need to close.
"These employees do not work with each other, so there is not any cause to believe that they are cross contaminating each other. These employees are in different sections of the zoo and have no reason to work with each other," said Ron Magill, communications director at the Miami-Dade Zoological Park and Gardens.
Zoo Miami has very stringent safety measure that have been in place for employees since the start of the outbreak, according to Magill. Each worker is temperature checked at the start of their shift, masks are mandatory, and they must practice social distancing at all times.
As far as customers and zoo patrons—- they too are instructed by signs on how to stay 6-feet apart, hand sanitizing stations are abundant and the zoo has eliminated many of touch points on site.
Most of the sick staff worked behind the scenes in trades and the animal sciences department. But one of the workers was assigned to interactive programs in a job where they would come in contact with customers.
“Because the interactive programs person tested positive— we are now closing all interactive programs from now on. We had recently reopened some of the animal feedings, like giraffe feedings, camel feeding, parrot feeding. Starting tomorrow, those will all be closed down,” Magill said.
“Although the employee worked with the public, all rules and guidelines established by the county’s New Normal rules and the CDC were followed. A mask was always worn and social distancing was observed. In addition, hand sanitizing stations are at all Interpretive Programs locations and all guests are provided the sanitizing materials following their interactions and are required to wear a face covering,” according to a statement from Zoo Miami.
How, when and where the workers contracted the virus may never be known.
Zoo officials said their safety standards exceed what’s required to keep guests and their animals safe paramount.
Magill wanted to assure visitors that there isn’t reason to not visit the zoo.
“Customers are absolutely safe coming through here,” Magill said.