Fiona the Hippo Will Kick Off Cincinnati Zoo's New Live Safari Program Amid Coronavirus Closure
Over the weekend, the zoo announced that although its own doors had been temporarily shuttered, they had come up with a way to bring the zoo to anybody with an internet connection!
“We’re bringing the Zoo to people who are stuck at home,” said Cincinnati Zoo Director Thane Maynard in a press release about their Home Safari Facebook Lives, which are slated to occur seven days a week.
“This Zoo is so important to the community and not being able to visit will create a void that we’re trying to fill,” Maynard added. “The goal with the daily live sessions is to provide fun and educational content to people who are stuck at home.”
Every day, the new program will highlight one of the “amazing animals” that lives at the zoo and will also “include an activity you can do from home.”
To make things even more exciting, the zoo’s very first live safari, which takes place on Monday, will feature one of the most beloved zoo animals on the planet: Fiona the hippo!
If you want to tune in live, simply pull up the zoo’s Facebook page every day at 3 p.m. EST. But don’t worry, if you can’t make it, all of the safaris will be posted to the zoo’s website and on their YouTube page.
Although the zoo is still a few hours away from debuting the new program, animal lovers have already shown just how excited they are at the prospect of seeing some of their favorite animals from their own homes.
“We announced the safaris on Facebook yesterday, and the response was phenomenal. That post has reached more than 18 million people and has been shared 283,000 times,” Maynard said in Monday’s press release.
Maynard is also asking that people consider making a donation while the zoo remains closed in an effort to prevent the spread of the virus.
“As a non-profit organization, the Zoo relies on ticket sales, zoo visits, memberships and donations to operate. Being closed will have a significant impact on its overall operating budget. Please consider donating to our emergency operating fund to assist us with the care of our animals and team members. Your support now is more critical than ever,” added Maynard.
A reopening date for the zoo has yet to be announced.
There are now at least 3,927 confirmed cases of coronavirus in the United States, according to The New York Times.
68 people in the U.S. have died from coronavirus-related illness, with most — 42 — in Washington state. In Ohio, where the Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Zoo is located, there have been at least 37 confirmed cases and no deaths.
As information about the coronavirus pandemic rapidly changes, PEOPLE is committed to providing the most recent data in our coverage. Some of the information in this story may have changed after publication. For the latest on COVID-19, readers are encouraged to use online resources from CDC, WHO, and local public health departments and visit our coronavirus hub.