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MAKING A MARK: The Virginia Living Museum

The Virginia Living Museum is caring for many plants and animals through the COVID-19 shutdown. It's also asking for donations to keep connecting people with nature.

NEWPORT NEWS, Va. — The Virginia Living Museum is temporarily closed to the public because of coronavirus - but the crucial work behind its doors must go on.

“We really never close. You can't," said Rebecca Kleinhample, executive director of the museum. "You cannot turn away from an animal that you have made that commitment to." 

The museum has a lot of moving parts, with a science center, zoo, aquarium, nature park and planetarium.

During COVID-19, staff members are still busy at work every day, caring for live plants and animals that need their attention. 

“It's all about the welfare of the animals,” said Kleinhample. ”That includes their husbandry, their daily care, the habitat that they're in - [kept] as natural as we can possibly provide.” 

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The museum is also staying connected to the community by offering virtual "natural learning" and holding its Spring Native Plant Sale online. 

“Our audience, our guests, our visitors are at home, and they need the experiences just as they did every regular day,” said Kleinhample. 

The museum said community donations are key to its Emergency Animal Support Fund, which provides food and essential daily care for its 250 living species during the crisis. 

“When we call come out of - whenever this will be - come out of this pandemic, there'll be a vital, healthy organization to welcome the guests back here to enjoy the beauty that surrounds us on these 23 acres," Kleinhample said. 

For more information about The Virginia Living Museum, visit its website. You can also check out the museum on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

More than 200 other local nonprofits need community support as part of the Give Local 757 initiative to spark local philanthropy. By donating, you’ll help them continue to help the community recover from this crisis.

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