MADISON, WI (SPECTRUM NEWS) — Several parents near Madison looking for something to entertain and educate their kids while at home social distancing have turned to the Henry Vilas Zoo.
They don't go in person — the zoo is closed — but they've been watching live videos of zookeepers interacting with animals and answering children's questions about them.
“It gives us something to look forward to in our day and the zoo is the place that we go often throughout the year anyway and so it kind of makes us feel that we're connecting to a place that we love,” said Andrea Dretske.
The Dretske's watch nearly every day, and their two kids love asking questions.
“I'm really glad that people are watching them and are entertained and are thankful for it,” said Heather Merewood, conservation education manager at Henry Vilas Zoo.
She said this wasn't the programming they were planning on for March, but they're happy to provide it.
“Especially with a lot of kids at home, right now parents are looking for something to keep their kids entertained,” Merewood said.
The zoo is also putting activities and worksheets to go along with the videos on its website: https://www.henryvilaszoo.gov/zoo-at-home/
So far though, the Facebook Live videos have been the big draw. With up to 20,000 views on the videos they know people are watching.
“This is a shift but it's really nice to be able to provide something for people as a distraction and still educational and entertaining,” Merewood said.
The zoo plans to keep expanding the online opportunities while things remain shut down and the Dretske's appreciate that.
“We go almost once a week in the summer and we're learning new things every time we're watching these videos,” said Clint Dretske. “It also connects you to the zoo like on a whole different level.”