Beardsley Zoo Handles Covid-19

New to the Zoo: Photo of a Mexican gray wolf, the newest addition to the Beardsley Zoo.  Photo courtesy of the Beardsley Zoo.

New to the Zoo: Photo of a Mexican gray wolf, the newest addition to the Beardsley Zoo. Photo courtesy of the Beardsley Zoo.

Olivia Salai and Julia Poffenberger

     Many Foran students growing up in Connecticut can recall a memory of attending the Beardsley Zoo. Popular among the young and old alike, Connecticut’s only zoo is a fan favorite for many events, including birthday parties, educational opportunities, or weddings.

     In general, most zoos are helpful to species in protecting them and trying to make an environment that would be the next best thing to their home. 

     The Beardsley Zoo was a favorite place to go during the summertime for Mrs. Dawn Davis, a science teacher at Foran. 

     Davis says, “In terms of conservation and helping animals that are going extinct, [zoos] definitely have a purpose.” 

     The zoo cares for 350 animals each day, focusing on North and South American as well as some Asian species. 

     Many of these creatures are endangered or vulnerable in the wild, and the workers are dedicated to their mission of conservation and spreading the message of how everyone can help these wild species. 

     The Connecticut Zoological Society established the Connecticut Beardsley Zoo (CBZ)’s Conservation Fund in 2002 to support conservation efforts worldwide, and a Conservation Pledge is available with ways people can make sustainable choices and reduce their carbon footprint.

     In the midst of Covid-19, the Beardsley Zoo remains open, just with some added precautions. 

     Guests are required to wear masks while visiting the Zoo, and are encouraged to bring their own strollers, wheelchairs, etc. as they won’t be available at the Zoo, and workers thoroughly clean the Zoo before and after guests arrive and during the day as well. 

     The Peacock Cafe, the Zoo’s restaurant, has also reopened, but guests are only allowed inside to order food. Online and in-person orders are collected at the Pick-up Zone. Visitors can also bring their own food and drink. While the Gift Shop is currently closed, there’s still an outdoor Gift Shop kiosk available.

     Animal care is the zoo’s first priority during the pandemic, but animals miss interacting with people. “Without guest interaction, animal care staff played music and provided additional enrichment items in animal habitats for [spider monkeys] to explore,” says Lisa Clair, who manages public relations for the CBZ. She explains that spider monkeys love to watch guests, so the team members came up with alternatives to keep the monkeys interested during the day.

     The zoo team thought of many creative ways to bring animals and people together, even when closed. On their YouTube channel, they offer read-alouds for young kids and videos featuring animals and how they’re managed. 

     Custom classroom videos and conferences with animal experts can also be purchased via their website. Their blog has narratives from visitors and is home to the “Wildly Successful” column featuring unique animals.

     Despite all its wonders, The Beardsley Zoo needs support now more than ever. Because they are a non-profit organization, they rely heavily on ticket, membership, and other visit sales. 

     There is an Emergency Operating Fund located on their website where patrons’ donations go straight to helping the animals and team members during these difficult times. Their Amazon Wishlist also lets donors purchase exact items the Zoo needs, and adding Connecticut Zoology Society on Amazon Smile donates 0.5% of the purchase price to the Zoo. 

     Signing up for the Zoo’s e-newsletter and text alerts as well as following them on social media is encouraged. Buying tickets or memberships to the zoo is also a great help. For more information on donation and the Zoo itself, visit the Zoo’s website at