Whilst the focus has been clearly on the human dilemma during the current pandemic there has also been a conversation as to the effects on non-human animals. Currently little evidence exists to support COVID transmission between domestic pets like cats and dogs and their owners, however there is some suggestion that animals in close proximity to humans could act as carriers on their coats or fur.
Generally speaking many animals throughout the world, both wild and captive, have benefitted because of the pandemic and the various lockdown measures. Whilst the wet markets of Wuhan and other areas of Asia have reopened since the virus first spread, the number of exotic animals on sale has decreased, although not entirely eliminated. Obviously the appetite for bat soup and Pangolin fritters has been severely diminished whilst the increased security at borders and restrictions in international travel have temporarily curtailed much of the smuggling of wildlife.
As the BBC reported earlier this year “coronavirus lockdowns globally have given parts of the natural world a rare opportunity to experience life with hardly any humans around.” In a world where wildlife is constantly under threat this has allowed many species a chance to regroup, multiply and enjoy at least a temporary reprieve from human interaction.
Migratory birds have reaped the benefit of cleaner skies and the shutdown of international air travel whilst many sea creatures like whales and dolphins have enjoyed the freedom that shipping free channels and oceans allow. There have also been incidents, like that in Israel, where wild boar have invaded urban areas to take advantage of the increase in household garbage during the stay at home restrictions.
Some metro scavengers have not been as successful and pigeons throughout the world have reportedly been doing it tough. With the massive reduction in human traffic in public areas like parks and town squares, the discarded food pickings have become slim. In Sydney’s Hyde Park, once an oasis of lunchtime scraps, pigeons, possums and rats compete for a greatly reduced menu. The little old lady who sits on the park bench and feeds the clucking, strutting pigeons has never been in greater demand.
When it comes to household pets it seems there is both good and bad in the lockdown scenario. Obviously your faithful mutt is enjoying the increased attention and basic company from you being at home on an almost permanent basis. Yet some canine shrinks have warned that as soon as you return to your normal nine to five workplace, the once spoilt Fido will feel badly neglected – even traumatised by the new loneliness. There is a solution of course. Sit your pooch in front of the flat screen and run endless repeats of Love Island Australia, The Block, The Masked Singer, Farmer Wants A Wife and all the other stultifying crap that the commercial networks throw up as entertainment. This brain numbing onslaught will soon lull Rover into a state of mindless stupor and combat any feelings of anxiety or separation.
If we learn any lesson from the current pandemic it’s the vulnerability of the global economy and human beings in general. We have long regarded ourselves as the superior species, totally in control of our own destiny and the masters of all other animals. Yet somewhere in the wilds of the jungle is a Yoda like bat, the wisdom of the world reflected in its alien like eyes, who knows that the fate of humanity rests elsewhere. We await the real deity!