More than a billion people worldwide are staying at home under guidance from their governments and socially distancing themselves from one another to avoid the spread of the coronavirus. With businesses closed and cities being emptied out, people are getting a preview of what animals that usually keep their distance do when they are left alone by humans.
The pandemic has created a large halt in tourism around the world, creating access to these animals, allowing them to roam freely. Animals are responding to the lack of humans interfering and are making appearances around the world.
Many wildlife are returning to their natural habitats, which is quite ironic as us humans have switched roles with the animals in a zoo-like fashion. We are now the ones stuck in “enclosures” while they are roaming and returning to their natural habitats. Wildlife are changing their behavior remarkably quickly in response to the lockdown and the absence of humans. These are behavioral responses that have occurred within a few weeks and they are responding quickly to the absence of human disturbance.
Depending on where you reside on the globe, people have been spotting Wild Goats exploring Welsh towns, (note our cover picture taken by Carl Recine with Reuters) Lions have been laying freely on normally crowded safari roads, and even some workers at zoos and aquariums are getting in on the fun. Many of these places are letting animals out of their cages to explore the facilities and to see other animals that they otherwise would never come across, creating curious animals and cute moments. Even some animal shelters are getting involved, like puppies roaming the aquariums looking in wonderment at penguins swimming along in their tanks.
This pandemic is also throwing a spotlight on the global wildlife trade. Wildlife Conservation Societies are urging governments to ban live animal markets, and to stop illegal trafficking and poaching of wild animals.
If anything, this crisis has showed us that we all could be a bit kinder to animals and realize that what we put on our plates as well as the way we interact with animals has forever been changed. It has forced us to look at the effects that humans have on the world and its animal habitats. If anything, we can take stock of our lives and realize we are not the only important beings inhabiting these lands and to not take it for granted.