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Osaka zoo temporarily closes due to staff shortages as COVID spreads

Osaka Tennoji Zoo is seen in the city of Osaka in this May 2020 file photo. (Mainichi/Satoshi Hishida)

OSAKA -- A zoo in this west Japan city temporarily closed on Jan. 25 due to staff shortages amid the spread of coronavirus infections.

    Osaka Tennoji Zoo in the city's Tennoji Ward announced on Jan. 24 that it would be temporarily closed from the following day. It has not been determined when it will reopen. About 30% of zookeepers were apparently unable to work because they were either infected with the virus or had had close contact with infected people.

    According to the facility, a zookeeper was confirmed infected on Jan. 20, followed by two others. As of Jan. 24, a total of nine keepers including those who had close contact with infected people were unable to work. The zoo has 29 keepers and it usually operates with about 18 such workers a day. But since Jan. 22, it was operating with a team of about 10 keepers a day.

    While the zoo has the necessary number of keepers to care for the animals, it decided to temporarily close because some keepers would need to take care of unfamiliar animals. Entry tickets purchased in advance will be refunded.

    (Japanese original by Hirokage Tabata, Osaka Science & Environment News Department)

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