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Happy Hollow Blog

Protecting the animals – and each other

Wednesday, 1/20

While the City of San José and the rest of the world works to protect humans from COVID-19, the Zoo team at Happy Hollow points out that they are also taking precautions to protect the animals from any kind of virus.

“Because primates and other animals share some of the same diseases that humans can get, we have strict policies,” says Happy Hollow Zoo Manager, Kevin Hertell. “Our care takers wear masks around each other and our animals, as well as gloves in certain situations, such as food prep and any time we need to get hands on with an at-risk animal.” Daily health screenings and physical distancing protocols are also required for all employees and anyone who enters the Park & Zoo.

While humans across the country line up to receive the COVID-19 vaccine, that’s not exactly an option for the animals at Happy Hollow. “Every species of animal would require a different vaccine,” says Veterinary Technician Rachel Atkins. “While it’s true that there are other coronaviruses that effect animals, they are not generally severe diseases and are typically only an issue in young animals or in crowded housing situations.”

Happy Hollow has around 11 zookeepers on site every day to care for the 140 animals representing 56 different species from across the globe. “Our animal caretakers are essential,” says Zoo Curator Heather Vrzal. “We are grateful and inspired by the professional, dedicated care they provide each and every day. The animals need lots of daily attention and care 365 days a year – whether we are open or closed.”

Currently, Happy Hollow is temporarily closed to the public due to county and state Stay-at-Home orders, and none of the animals are believed to have contracted COVID-19.