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Henry Vilas Zoo encourages patrons to wear masks to protect animals, staff from COVID-19

Published: Apr. 7, 2021 at 4:53 PM CDT|Updated: Apr. 7, 2021 at 6:55 PM CDT
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MADISON, Wis. (WMTV) - The Henry Vilas Zoo is encouraging its patrons to continue wearing masks Wednesday as the new Dane County emergency order takes place, saying its animals and staff are still at risk for catching COVID-19.

Kristin Moala, marketing manager at the zoo, said animals that are susceptible to being infected with the virus have not had gotten a COVID-19 vaccine made for animals.

“The ease of the mask mandate does make it harder to open some of our indoor areas,” said Moala. “We are a smaller zoo and we’re a free zoo, so it’s harder to staff every indoor animal area. Every single indoor animal area does house COVID susceptible animals.”

Emergency Order #15 took place in Dane County Wednesday, meaning people in the county no longer need to wear masks during outdoor activities, nor are there caps placed on how many people can attend an outdoor gathering.

Moala said despite the order, about 90% of people who came into the zoo Wednesday were wearing a mask.

“We’re encouraged to see that and see that they’re taking the safety of the animals so seriously, and we hope people continue to wear a mask even though its not mandated anymore,” said Moala.

There are still other COVID-19 precautions in place at the zoo, such as one-way walking paths, closed play areas and masks requirements at indoor zoo facilities. The zoo hopes to have most indoor exhibits open later this summer, including the new baby otters.

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