Zoos and wildlife parks in NSW may be closed to the public because of the coronavirus but keepers are making the most of having the grounds and animals to themselves.
From Sydney's Taronga Zoo, to Mogo Wildlife Park on the NSW South Coast and the family-run Billabong Zoo on the mid-north coast, the attractions are still operating, with zookeepers and other essential staff helping to look after the animals.
Mogo Wildlife Park director Chad Staples says there have been some logistical challenges in organising staff while adhering to social distancing, but it hasn't affected the animals.
"The animals wouldn't even know that there is a coronavirus," he tells AAP.
Mr Staples, who lives on-site, says he's in a fortunate position because he's surrounded by animals every day.
"I'm probably the luckiest person on the planet because my self-isolation is on the zoo grounds," he says.
Mogo Wildlife Park was forced to close earlier this year when bushfires burned nearby.
It reopened to the public a month ago before having to close again after just a few weeks because of the coronavirus.
"We will get past this, things will go back to normal," Mr Staples says.
The family-run Billabong Zoo in Port Macquarie has also had some challenging times after being hit by the drought, bushfires and now COVID-19.
"We thought once we got through to the Easter school holidays everything would be okay and now that's been taken as well," owner Mark Stone tells AAP on Thursday.
The zoo may be closed to the public but the care of the animals continues even though there's no income coming in, he adds.
Keepers and Mr Stone's own children are now volunteering their time to keep the zoo going.
"We're a very resilient group of people and the keepers are very passionate," he says.
He's called for government funding to help with the zoo's electricity costs, which are high as animals require heated enclosures, and feed costs.
Mr Stone, who's been in the industry for more than 40 years, says being able to spend time with animals is without a doubt a positive during challenging times.
He notes that for many zoos, animal conservation is an important part of their business, which is why many have turned to social media to educate the public while they're closed.
He hopes that once the COVID-19 restrictions are lifted, zoos will be a place where families can come together.
"It's going to be so important people have these outlets and places they can enjoy as a family," he says.
Zookeepers at Sydney Zoo in western Sydney are also running to a different schedule during the COVID-19 pandemic but are using it to do more enrichment activities with the animals.
"Whilst we would all prefer to be open, our keepers are making the most of this unusual time," a zoo spokesman says.
Sydney's Taronga Zoo and Dubbo's Taronga Western Plains Zoo have gone virtual so people at home can see what the keepers and animals get up to while the zoo is closed.
Taronga Conservation Society Australia chief executive Cameron Kerr says 24/7 live animal streams and regular keeper talks are a chance for the zoo to provide entertaining and educational content to people at home.
Australian Associated Press