Employees at Limbe Wildlife Center in Cameroon are giving vitamins to the animals in their care to build up their immunity in case they get a COVID-19 infection.
Veterinarians are worried the primates might catch the virus given their genetic closeness to humans. “All the cages were thoroughly cleaned and disinfected with appropriate concentration of bleach,” said head keeper Victor Veseke Njounje.
455 primates, including 15 gorillas and 43 chimpanzees, live at the center. They were rescued from illegal traffickers and neglect.
The sanctuary has been closed for a month because of restrictions imposed to stop the spread of the new coronavirus but also to protect the animals from infection.
But there’s another problem. The center is running out of money since there are no visitors and fewer international funds available.
“Donors, coming from the US, coming from Europe mostly, they have frozen their donations because simply they cannot cope. They rely on profit themselves and the economic situation is so difficult even there,” said Limbe’s park manager Guillaume le Flohic.
Donors include Columbus Zoo and Aquarium, Save the Drill, Born Free Foundation, Brigitte Bardot Foundation and the Los Angeles Zoo amongst others and in total provide for half of the center’s finance.
Le Flohic said they have enough to last them for three months. If nothing comes in from either the government, the public or donors the park will have to fire their staff and find a solution for the animals.
The center provides a home for illegally traded animals rescued by the authorities. Without this place, the animals would have nowhere to go.
“All of our activity and the reason why we are working here we will have to put that on hold but that is really not a situation I would want to be in, but that’s the situation we may face when our reserve is gone,” said le Flohic.
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