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MAKING A MARK: The Virginia Zoo goes virtual to provide behind-the-scenes look during coronavirus

Like many attractions, The Virginia Zoo is closed due to COVID-19. But its work to care for hundreds of animals continues and they want to showcase that care online.

NORFOLK, Va. — Like many attractions, The Virginia Zoo is closed due to COVID-19. But its work to care for hundreds of animals continues. As staff members stay busy behind closed doors, the zoo is offering online programs to give the community a look inside.

With the front gates locked, The Virginia Zoo is getting creative to keep its more than 700 animal residents connected with the community.

"One of the zoo's missions as an institution is to educate people about our animals and all the conservation work we do. And that wasn't gonna stop when the pandemic started and when our doors closed," said Marketing Manager Ashley Mars.

The zoo is now offering online experiences, like virtual voyages, behind-the-scenes tours, and safari camps. 

"It was just a really unique way to kinda give people a look of, 'We're still here! The animals are being well taken care of, and here's how we're doing it,'" said Mars.

Meanwhile, staff members are working hard to ensure the health and wellness of animals on the grounds. 

"The animals are still cared for, and they still get outside every day," said Mars. "They still get their enrichment and their training sessions."

The zoo's busiest time of the year is quickly approaching, so the temporary closure will have a significant financial impact. Your donation to its Emergency Operating Fund will help the nonprofit weather the crisis. 

"Once the zoo reopens, we're gonna kinda assess where our areas of greatest needs are, and then that money will be allocated to help those areas," said Mars.

For more information about The Virginia Zoo and its virtual programs, visit https://virginiazoo.org or check it out on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/thevirginiazoo/. To donate to the zoo's Emergency Operating Fund, visit https://virginiazoo.org/emergency-fund/.

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