The South African National Biodiversity Institute (SANBI) announces that its National Botanical and Zoological Gardens will remain open to the public unless further directives are received from the Government.

SANBI has interrogated the speech made by the President of the Republic of South Africa, Mr Cyril Ramaphosa on 15 March 2020 and other directives received and has adapted its working protocols to ensure the safety of its staff, visitors and the animals in its care.

The National Zoological Garden is one of 11 national botanical/zoological gardens managed by SANBI.

“The NZG is a unique environment that requires its own planning due to it have a living animal collection and there are some studies that indicate that the COVID-19 virus may be zoonotic. This means it may be transmittable from human to primates,” says Carmel Mbizvo, SANBI’S Acting CEO.

SANBI has decided to keep all its gardens open with the commensurate safety precautions. At the NZG these include placing hand-sanitisers at the entrances and adding to the staff’s preventive equipment. Hand-sanitiser are available throughout the zoo, especially in high risk areas. The NZG has also taken the decision to close off some of the high risk areas such as the primate enclosures and the aquarium and reptile park. This will prevent any transmission between humans and animals. This decision has been taken in the best interest of the public and the animals. In this regard the NZG is following international best practice to prevent the transfer of diseases to the animals

SANBI has established an internal working group dedicated to monitoring the situation at all gardens and making recommendations to its Executive Committee. The committee focuses on the wellbeing of our visitors, staff and the animals in our care. SANBI has enabled its Business Continuity Plan (BCP) to respond to this crisis. This plan ensures the continuous supply of feed to the animals as well as keeping all other areas of the business operational.

In the speech of President Ramaphosa he urged entertainment centres and other places frequented by large groups of people to bolster their hygiene control and SANBI has responded to this call at all its gardens.

Media enquiries:
Craig Allenby
Cell: 071 400 7566
Tel.: 012 843 5286
E-mail: C.Allenby@sanbi.org.za

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