In the absence of the city's hustle and bustle, listen closely and you might hear the piercing sound of two gibbons singing a duet.

If you live near Wellington Zoo, at least.

As the sounds of Wellington city fall away in the coronavirus lockdown, some residents in the suburb of Newtown may notice an abundance of exotic animal sounds over the next few weeks, zoo spokeswoman Ash Howell said.

The zoo is closed to the public during the alert level four lockdown, but keepers are continuing to provide the animals with their usual level of care.


While some of the animals have not noticed the absence of visitors, others appear to be missing their audiences.

Breezy the Auckland Green Gecko has decided to stay in his shed pjs during lockdown! 😂 Like other reptiles, geckos...

Posted by Wellington Zoo on Thursday, 26 March 2020

"Some of our animals are looking for people, like the tigers," Howell said.

"We've noticed they are more interested in our keepers when they are working with them in the mornings, which is probably indicative of them not seeing visitors or other staff as much.

"Our chimpanzees and otters also seem to have noticed a lack of visitors."

Zookeepers are carrying out a range of "behavioural enrichment activities" to keep the animals stimulated during the lockdown.

Video captured by staff shows meerkats scrabbling in a colourful ball pit, dingoes interacting with otters through enclosure glass, and Senja the Sumatran tiger bunny-kicking a ball.

"The animals' routines are still the same, the only difference is that there aren't any visitors," Howell said.

"We continue to monitor individual animals' behaviour closely for any changes.


"The gibbons are still singing their duet daily, letting all of Newtown know they're still here."

Manasa the Red Panda

When you’re in lockdown and it’s raining outside but you’re trying not to eat all of your snacks in one go... 🙃 Video of Manasa the Red Panda by Keeper Kaitlyn

Posted by Wellington Zoo on Friday, 27 March 2020

The zoo has about 25 staff on site each day, including keepers, the veterinary team, nutrition team, and maintenance team.

"We have seven teams operating independently on site; with members of each team also maintaining physical distancing from each other. We have split our teams into two groups, each working three days at the zoo followed by three days at home."

Zoo staff are using technology more to help with physical distancing and separation protocols. For example, vets will be using video calling to undertake first-level consultations with keepers and animals.

"We're still engaging with our community online via our social media channels and we've set up a webpage with activities for kids that we will update over the next few weeks."