A pandemic like COVID-19 is a once-in-a-lifetime event, likely to be the subject of art and filmmaking for years to come. Documentaries tracking the virus and its effects are already being produced. One such example comes from Animal Planet, with a film documenting the effects of the pandemic on animals. It is a small project limited by the constraints of current circumstances, but an interesting one nonetheless.
The Zoo: COVID-19
The film will be titled The Zoo: COVID-19, and will be produced in cooperation with pet owners, animal lovers and zookeepers. It is not an in-depth study, as we are still in the throes of the pandemic itself, but anecdotally it reveals a lot about how animals, like people, deal with these strange times in different ways. Future documentaries on the subject will likely use this film as a reference.
The documentary features big cat expert Dave Almoni as he speaks with a variety of experts, including Bronx Zoo’s chief veterinarian Paul Calle. Salmoni attempts to help audiences understand through layman’s terms how the pandemic can affect our furry friends. This is an interesting approach, due to the virus itself having likely originated from wildlife.
The film was inspired by a particular incident involving a tiger at New York’s Bronx Zoo. Concerns began when the four-year-old Malayan tigress, Nadia, tested positive for COVID-19 after showing signs of illness late last March. Four additional tigers and three lions later tested positive as well. In the end, these events led scientists to the revelation that animals–particularly felines–can similarly contract and spread the virus as humans do.
The Zoo: COVID-19 And Animals will premiere on May 17 on Animal Planet, Animal Planet HD and the Discovery Plus app. It will be an interesting event on its own, as it offers the first real glimpse as to how film will look in the new age of social distancing.