How the Government Shutdown Affects Animals

The panda cam at the National Zoo has gone dark. Oh no!The panda cam at the National Zoo has gone dark. Oh no!The government shutdown doesn't only affect the American people, but also the nation's animals. Take a look at how the government's failure to pass a spending plan will change the daily routines of animals in zoos, parks and wildlife refuges.

Cameras off
The National Zoo's beloved panda cam - as well as its dozen other animal Web cameras, including one for the newly arrived Sumatran tiger cubs - has gone dark. The zoo is now closed to visitors, but the shutdown won't affect care of the animals. Veterinarians and all staff involved in the feeding and cleaning of animals are considered essential employees.

Out of work
Washington's budget impasse means 800,000 Americans won't be getting paid, but ivy-munching goats are also out of work. On Friday, Larry Cihanek removed his Nubian goats from the Gateway National Recreation Area at Sandy Hook, N.J., and from Fort Wadsworth in Staten Island, N.Y., in anticipation of the park closings. The herds had been helping eradicate poison ivy from the parks.

Parks closed, but critters still get care
All national parks and federal wildlife refuges are closed for the duration of the shutdown, and no fishing or hunting will be allowed on public lands.

About 500 Fish and Wildlife Service employees, whose salaries are paid by a permanent appropriation, will continue caring for animals at parks and hatcheries.

"No permitting work or consultations will occur with respect to the Endangered Species Act, Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act, the Convention on Trade in Endangered Species, the Lacy Act or the National Environmental Policy Act," according to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

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Although endangered species monitoring on public lands will cease, some animals will still get assistance. For example, while most of Gulf Islands National Seashore's 23,000 employees will be furloughed, staff will still be on hand to monitor sea turtles.

"We have a legal responsibility to care for the sea turtle nests as they are hatching due to the turtles being a threatened or endangered species under the Endangered Species Act," Seashore Superintendent Dan Brown told the Pensacola News Journal. "We are allowed to provide minimum staffing to watch the nests as they approach the end of the gestation period to assure the hatchlings make it into the Gulf."

Wild horse and burro holding facilities run by the Bureau of Land Management will be run by the minimum number of employees needed to humanely care for the animals.

Pet press conference canceled
A pet-friendly press conference that was to be held at Columbus Plaza in New York was canceled due to the shutdown. The Pet Industry Joint Advisory Council had arranged for dog owners to bring their pups to the event in hopes of persuading Amtrak to allow pets on its passenger trains.

"The location of our press conference is administered by the National Park Service and we have been informed that in the event of a shutdown, all permits for special events are canceled," said Mike Bober, PIJAC vice president of government affairs.

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