FRENCH CREEK, W.Va. — The West Virginia Wildlife Center is back open today in Upshur County. The facility was closed to the public for the past two months like everything else and only essential workers were on the job every day.
However, Tyler Evans, the manager of the facility said during the downtime they were able to get caught up on some things which typically are slow to get done.
“There isn’t a lot of spare time when visitors are actually coming through to actually tackle those, so having the place to ourselves for the last couple of months has actually enabled us to get a lot of projects done that I think are going to help us in the long run,” Evans said.
Daily tasks at the facility involve feeding the animals, but he said some deferred maintenance on the pens, walkways, and other parts of the Wildlife Center’s infrastructure were important tasks which they’ve had time to tackle.
The long loop around the Wildlife Center to view the exhibits has now been made one-way to limit interaction among guests. Social distance is to be maintained and large crowds are not allowed along the pathways. The facility gift shop is back open, but he picnic area remains closed.
Early in the pandemic there were reports of a tiger at the Bronx Zoo in New York which tested positive for Covid 19. The indication from scientists was the virus had the potential to jump species and could for sure infect big cats. Evans and his team are aware of the story and the danger.
“I’ve had some exposure to that situation. We’ve been aware that did happen and we’ve also been trying to make sure it doesn’t’ happen here. If it happens in one place to a large cat, it could happen anywhere to a large cat,” said Evans.
The cats at the wildlife canter include mountain lions and bobcats. Evans said they are taking steps to insure the health and safety of all of the exhibited animals as well as visitors who come to see them.