Coronavirus Spread Brings Headaches to Zoos, Aquariums

Society Lifestyle

Tokyo, Feb. 26 (Jiji Press)--The spread of the new coronavirus in Japan is prompting zoos and aquariums in the country to discuss whether to cancel events in which visitors can interact with animals.

Some facilities have canceled such events in fear of animal-to-human transmission of the virus, which originated in China. But others are acting in the opposite way, saying that there is no scientific evidence suggesting infection through animals.

In late January, a facility featuring Akita dogs in the city of Odate, Akita Prefecture, northeastern Japan, suspended its popular event allowing participants to pet and feed the animals. The operator of the "Akitainu no Sato" facility is concerned about the possibility of the virus spreading to people through the dogs.

About 60 to 70 pct of visitors to the facility are from Chinese-speaking regions. "We have no idea at all who carries the virus," Kazuhiro Sato, the 61-year-old head of the facility, said, adding, "We hope the virus crisis will be somehow brought under control."

Umitamago, an aquarium known for its marine animal shows in the southwestern city of Oita, has canceled its interaction event featuring walruses. "While we don't know if people get infected through contact with walruses, we thought it's safer to suspend the event because we don't know much about the virus," an official at the facility said.

[Copyright The Jiji Press, Ltd.]

Jiji Press