I, along with many of you, am experiencing impacts on my personal and professional life in ways I have never known.
We will need to change how we live, how we work, and how we operate and manage our sanctuary programs in this unprecedented and extremely stressful time.
At Forest Animal Rescue, the safety and well-being of our staff, supporters, volunteers, and animals are our highest priority. We want to address the corona virus (COVID-19), although we want to avoid the hype, we do take this very seriously and are closely monitoring the situation.
We encourage everyone to learn the facts to mitigate fear. We are following guidance from public health officials and government agencies, including the Centers for Disease Control and the World Health Organization, as well as our veterinarian, so we can make ongoing assessments and stay in constant communication with our associates to implement the best policies going forward.
Social distancing of volunteers and staff:
Out of caution, all nonessential volunteers, including those assisting keepers with animal care, which of course continues, have been instructed to stay home until further notice.
Many of these volunteers want to support our animal care staff and help with expansion to allow for upcoming rescues, but that would place them and others at increased risk according to social distancing guidelines.
We are temporarily stopping our scheduling of volunteer groups from around the country as well as our international/residential volunteer program to limit the exposure of everyone involved, to social situations.
We have already had to cancel our “Alternative Spring Break” volunteer groups from across the country, and National Volunteer Week in April will be significantly impacted.
We usually schedule two tours of the sanctuary monthly, limited to four people on each tour. We will not be scheduling tours again until it is appropriate to do so.
Although our animals do not leave our property for events, we have suspended any presentations or public events to educate others on wild animal issues until it is appropriate to resume those activities.
We will continue to be flexible, continue to focus on prevention, and continue to encourage any staff member to stay at home if they are not feeling well.
Meanwhile, at the sanctuary: Our trained staff is using the guidelines and protocols outlined by the Centers for Disease Control and the World Health Organization (WHO)
The cleanliness of our sanctuary is always a top priority for us, now more than ever. In addition to our regular cleaning procedures, increased sanitation measures have been added with extra attention to frequently touched and high traffic areas.
Although there is little information available at this point regarding the spread of COVID-19 to various animal species, we are working under the assumption that our nonhuman primates would be susceptible.
Combined with our usual frequent handwashing and hand sanitizer use, hand sanitizer and surgical masks are being carried by every staff member to use throughout the day, especially during food preparation and any care related to our primates.
I would love for all of us to continue to share what we are doing to mitigate fear, connect with others, and move through this uncertain time in the months to come – together. Soon enough, this will be behind us.
We will continue to monitor this situation as it evolves and continue to protect the animals and the staff that cares for them. Thank you for your cooperation and understanding. We want to keep everyone safe so that we can continue appropriate care for our animals.
If you have any questions or concerns, please reach out to us by phone or email through our website at www.ForestAnimalRescue.org
PLEASE – If you are in a position to help the sanctuary make it through this difficult time, we would appreciate anything you can give. We will be forced to hire a few local contractors to do much of the construction and repairs that our out-of-area volunteer groups would normally help with. This expense is hitting us just as donations drop off due to the state of the economy.
Take care of yourself and your loved ones,
Lisa Stoner, Co-Founder, Forest Animal Rescue