How Hotels Are Taking Care of Their Resident Animals During COVID-19 (Video)

Though the COVID-19 pandemic has forced temporary hotel closures, there’s still a lot of work going on behind the scenes, especially for properties that have animals in their care. Around the world, trainers and naturalists continue to look after the critters they — and guests — love so much.

View of the Broadmoor Hotel
The hotel sits on the southern edge of the Rocky Mountains. Benjamin Rasmussen

Since 2015, the historic Broadmoor hotel in Colorado Springs, Colorado, has maintained a falconry program to give guests the opportunity to observe birds of prey and even try their hand at basic skills, like calling a hawk. These past several weeks, master falconer Deanna Curtis and her team have been returning to the mews that house the resort’s flock (four falcons, four hawks, and an owl) to make sure the birds stay healthy, happy, and mentally stimulated.

Scenes from the Broadmoor hotels falconry program, including a trainer, a falcon, and traditional gear
From left: Curtis shows off Maverick, a Harris’s hawk, during a training session; some of the traditional tools used at the Broadmoor’s falconry academy. Benjamin Rasmussen

“I’m here every day cleaning, training, and flying the birds,” Curtis told Travel + Leisure. “They still need enrichment, and so do I!”

In addition to their regular exercise, the birds have been receiving training for a new lure-flying class and the possible debut of a hunting program that would also involve Curtis’ hunting dogs.

Down in Costa Rica, near Arenal Volcano National Park, the expert naturalists at Nayara Resorts — led by Juan Pablo Castillo — have remained on site to keep tabs on the local wildlife. Normally, the team offers activities that include morning bird-watching, visits to the onsite sloth sanctuary, and night walks. Right now, their tasks center on protecting the animals. “We dedicate an hour each morning to monitor the sloths, monkeys, and toucans, among other animals,” shared the lead naturalist. “Just last week we helped a sloth back into a guarumo tree it had fallen from.”

Sloth in the trees at Nayara Resort
Courtesy of Nayara Resorts

Most days, Castillo and company will spot both two- and three-toed sloths hanging out in the trees, and they recently spotted members of a new generation of baby sloths. “Just like the rest of us, they are looking forward to welcoming guests and new friends soon," he said.

On the Balearic island of Mallorca, in Spain, Belmond La Residencia’s five resident donkeys are being tended to by a front-office staffer who volunteered for the job. Pancho, Alba, Fosque, Luna, and Gitanillo normally spend their days accompanying guests on walks through the property’s 30-acre olive grove or, in Alba’s case, serving as the Kids’ Club’s official mascot and participating in donkey rides. These days, the drove is mostly relaxing and roaming leisurely around the shady area.

Donkey at a Belmond property
Courtesy of Belmond

As you might’ve gathered from catching live game drives on social media, safari lodges and hotels throughout Africa are still pursuing conservation work and monitoring their local wildlife. Some might think the gentle giants at the ever-popular Giraffe Manor in Nairobi are domesticated, but they’re actually part of a wild tower that lives in a 140-acre forest sanctuary. (Kenya Wildlife Services keep tabs on them and jumps in if veterinary care is required.)

In other more remote areas, such as those where andBeyond’s lodges and camps are found, the lack of tourism actually puts animals at higher risk for poaching. The staff members who’ve remained behind are still going out into the reserves — while maintaining social-distancing measures — to ensure the animals, and endangered species in particular, are secure. Travelers can check in via the brand’s live webcasts, as well as through certain properties’ Instagram feeds.

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