Saint Louis Zoo’s research team looks at how some animals responded to lack of visitors during pandemic

Published: Jan. 17, 2023 at 6:03 PM CST|Updated: Jan. 18, 2023 at 5:00 PM CST
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ST. LOUIS (KMOV) – The Saint Louis Zoo’s research team is focused on visitor impacts on some animals.

The team studied how the behavior of polar bears, grizzly bears, gorillas, and the banteng changed when the Zoo was forced to close due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Some of the animals spent more time in shaded structures or areas away from the visitor viewing areas. When visitors came back to the Zoo, the animals moved closer to the viewing areas.

“I think it may have been difficult for them not having all their variety outside of their viewing areas that they’re used to watching and getting to participate in from afar,” said Dr. Ashley Edes, St. Louis Zoo Animal Welfare Scientist. “They moved to the area that they could be closer to visitors, and that interest in the visitor areas has stayed.”

The gorillas did not show a notable change in behavior during the study.

If an animal does approach the viewing area, visitors can make them comfortable by not tapping the glass and by avoiding sudden movements.