Everyone has been using the phrase “in these unprecedented times” to try to make sense of the COVID-19 world. Because it is true - as a society, we have never been fully prepared for the situation that faces us today.
Massachusetts was one of the Coronavirus hotspots in the country for some time, prompting businesses to shutter and offices to close. Caring for all the monkeys at the Monkey College requires staff to be here each and every day...through snowstorms, hurricanes, and the like. But how do you make sure that the staff and the monkeys all remain healthy during a global pandemic?
“We know that capuchins can be susceptible to many of the same illnesses that humans are,” said Director of Monkey Care, Alison Payne. “Which is why as a staff we receive the flu shot every year and are very careful when we have a cold. But how do you protect against a virus that is as contagious as this one and has no vaccine? You design new protective measures to keep EVERYONE safe.”
As “normal” was no longer the safest option, Helping Hands pivoted to maintain safety measures in order to keep all primates and people healthy. Initiating a system of 2 trainers a day working 10 - 11 hour shifts minimized the potential of virus exposure for everyone.
Our trainers worked tirelessly to ensure that every monkey was not only well fed and healthy, but that each one continued to have a fulfilling life here. Not only that, they continued to provide full time support to our recipients across the country as well as nurture and guide a flourishing recipient/monkey helper relationship that began in November!
Even now as restrictions begin to lift, the staff continues to wear masks all day and wash items down with sanitizer repeatedly for the monkeys’ safety. Everyone who comes to the Helping Hands building is required to go through safety protocols to limit potential exposure. The staff has been amazingly nimble, flexible, and accommodating, and deserve to be honored as the safety heroes they are.