Tallinn city authorities have decided that Tallinn Zoo will be closed to the public amid the ongoing coronavirus outbreak.
Tallinn Mayor Mihhail Kõlvart (Center) announced on Thursday that the zoo would temporarily be closed, ERR's Russian-language online news portal reported.
Kõlvart announced the decision at a press conference organized for Russian-language media.
Until now, the zoo had remained open in a limited capacity — tickets could only be purchased from a regularly cleaned machine, and all buildings on zoo property were closed.
The closure to the public may be good news for some zoo residents, however, who have been spotted more since the number of visitors to the zoo dropped, such as the Amur leopard.
According to Tallinn Zoo director Tiit Maran, the zoo had already adopted precautionary measures to protect their zookeepers and other employees.
"Zookeepers wear masks, and avoid contact as much as possible," Maran said.
According to the director, just over 900 people had visited the zoo on Sunday, but a week prior, the zoo saw less than half as many visitors.
"Around 400," he said. "That isn't a lot for a regular day."
Wildlife sightings in urban areas
As human activity has been reduced, however, wild animals are increasingly on the move in human-settled areas. There have been reports on social media that elsewhere in Europe, wild boar and moose have been spotted seeking food in city streets.
Peep Männil, a chief specialist at the Nature Department of the Environment Agency, confirmed that such incidents have yet to occur in Estonia, but it could nonetheless happen that wild animals increasingly urbanize.
"Animals don't fear houses and cars; it is people they fear, and they won't come among people," Männil said. "If the streets are empty of people, then it could indeed happen that young migrating animals may come further into town."
The specialist also warned that animals in Estonia become more active beginning at the end of April, when female animals begin to give birth to their young. Anyone who comes across such a wild animal should avoid causing the animal to panic and instead notify emergency services at 112.
Editor: Aili Vahtla