HAVANA, Oct. 30th (Reuters) Zookeepers at Cuba’s National Zoo say several species of exotic and endangered animals took advantage of the peace and quiet created by the coronavirus epidemic for romantic encounters that resulted in a bumper crop of baby animals.
The newborns include leopards, Bengal tigers, zebras, giraffes and antelopes as well as oxen, according to veterinarian Rachel Ortiz of the zoo.
“While the epidemic has been negative for humans, it has proved beneficial in the case of zoos,” Ortiz told Reuters. “In particular, our park has had more than ten births of high-value species in danger of extinction, which may at some point rehabilitate biodiversity.”
The prying eyes of too many visitors who visit the zoo to see the animal’s exhibits restrict reproduction during a normal year, Ortiz said.
The National Zoo, home to 1,473 animals of more than 120 species, including large mammals like as elephants and rhinos, is a popular attraction for Cubans.
Cuba, a Caribbean island of white sand beaches and turquoise waters popular with tourists, closed its borders for nearly two years amid the epidemic and imposed strict quarantines on its shores to restrict the spread of the coronavirus.
“By not having the public in the exhibition areas, the animals are more relaxed,” said Ortiz.
During the epidemic, shortfalls in food and medicine weighed down the zoo at times.
But Deborah Maso, a doctor who oversees the African savannah exhibits, said zoo workers were able to dedicate the time needed to ensure that the animals were successful in their endeavours.
The birth of a baby giraffe, billed Rachel, was particularly moving, Maso said. The lanky, knock-kneed spotted female was pictured with bare hands.
Maso said, “The birth of a giraffe stood out.” It was a great achievement, he added and sparked utter joy for me.
Visitors may now see the baby leopard and giraffe themselves – the National Zoo recently reopened to the public.