How animals around the world are responding to COVID-19
No species in history has ever dominated the world as thoroughly as human beings. There’s only a handful of places left on Earth where the collective footprint of humanity isn’t immediately evident. The natural world—and the animals that live in it—can now exist only beyond the boundaries of the massive swaths of land people have claimed for themselves.
The global coronavirus lockdown, however, has suddenly made the sight of humans scarce. With millions of people mostly shuttered up indoors, the animal kingdom is waking up to the fact that its stomping grounds have expanded dramatically in some cases—and such a quick and radical change in human behavior has naturally led to an equally rapid shift in the behavior of the animals living among and around them.
Reports of strange behaviors, odd sightings, and straight-up neighborhood takeovers are seeping out of every corner of the world, from India and the Far East to Europe, Latin America, and the United States. Some instances are obvious—animals are simply wandering into and exploring areas that humans previously occupied. In other cases, animals that depended on humans for food are now seeking out other sources.
Others are more indirect, like massive spikes in requests for animal adoptions and fostering opportunities in some cities. In a few more sinister and upsetting cases, humans are using the crisis as a chance to exploit animals while the world’s attention is fixed on the virus.
Stacker compiled reports of animals exploring quiet streets and other reactions to the COVID-19 pandemic from a variety of journalistic sources. While many people are cooped up at home, the animal world is expanding into and encroaching onto land that’s been off-limits to them for generations. Keep reading to learn about how a human reaction to a global pandemic is changing the behavior of the animals that suddenly have much more room to rove.
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Goats take over Welsh town
It’s not unusual to spot a few stragglers from the herd of wild Kashmiri goats that live around the Welsh seaside town of Llandudno, according to the BBC. There are more than 120 of the horned and ravenous nomadic mammals living off the surrounding land. With its residents sheltered in their homes during the COVID-19 crisis and the streets of Llandudno empty, however, the herd moved in, gobbling up hedges and feasting on gardens and front yard flowers.
Deer roam the streets in India
A town on lockdown in India was also visited by a local herd of wild animals—this time it was deer. Footage from the incident showed residents marveling from their windows as the herd sauntered down the street to the delight of children and utter confusion of neighborhood dogs.
Monkey gangs battle in Thailand
Meanwhile, in Thailand, a less genteel display of gathering wildlife took place. The historic city of Lopburi is home to thousands of monkeys, all of which have grown accustomed to being fed by the city’s legions of tourists—a tradition for generations. With no tourists, however, the monkeys are starving and restless—a recent turf war pitted a huge gang of temple monkeys against an equally formidable crew of street monkeys.
Wild boar search Barcelona for food
Large, ravenous, and potentially very aggressive, wild boar have long lived in the countryside outside of Barcelona, Spain. With humans sheltered at home, however, the boar have extended their neverending mission for food closer and closer to the city center. In one of the most metropolitan cities in the world, wild boar are literally roaming the streets.
Ducks aren't getting food from humans
Thailand’s monkeys aren’t the only animals that rely on humans for food—ducks in the United Kingdom are now suffering from a lack of dropped or offered morsels. Geese, too, are now looking for new sources of nourishment as their human caretakers sit at home.
New York animal shelters see increase in adoptions
The COVID-19 crisis hasn’t been all bad news for animals. Animal shelters and rescue operations across New York have reported a significant increase in the number of companionship-hungry residents adopting or fostering animals.
Less outdoor time advised for cats
All cats should be house cats during the COVID-19 crisis, according to America’s vets. CNN recently reported that since the virus can live on cats’ bodies temporarily, they can act as transmitters and shouldn’t be allowed outdoors.
Penguins tour Shedd Aquarium
Rockhopper penguins at the Shedd Aquarium in Chicago transformed from inhabitants to tourists when the facility shut down as the coronavirus began spreading. The staff members used their imaginations to keep the animals enriched and engaged. They temporarily turned the penguins loose from their exhibit, and the waddling birds immediately began touring the aquarium and examining other animals in their own enclosures.
Rhinos at risk of being poached
An enormous ecotourism industry funds much of the anti-poaching and conservation efforts in several African countries whose vast preserves are home to some of the continent’s most majestic and endangered wildlife. Among them are rhinos, which are now much more vulnerable to poachers as tourism-based anti-poaching funding disappears.
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Coyotes explore San Francisco
Unlike rhinos, “specialists” that require a specific diet and specific habitat to survive, coyotes are “generalists” that can make a living in a variety of environments with a variety of foods. Not long after receiving its shelter-in-place order in the middle of March, San Francisco residents reported spotting coyotes wandering the streets of the city. Those reports were soon followed by video footage from residents and social media posts.2018 All rights reserved.