As the public face of the largest zoological garden in Florida and one of the largest zoo in the US, the communicator director of the place, Ron Magill, has many fond memories from the four decades of Earth Days spent working there, but none more memorable than this year’s.
“I feel like I kind of won the lottery in a way,” the TV personality and animal expert said in an Earth Day interview with Patch. “I have profound sympathy and empathy for the people struggling through this. But again, I always try to look at the positive side of things. Right now, I’m trying to eat up every day I have with the solitude of this amazing wildlife.”
While he has been at Zoo Miami during other closures, this one has been different.
“I’ve been through times when we’ve had to close the zoo after Hurricane Andrew, Hurricane Wilma,” Magill recalled. “Those are all forms of destruction. You’d go out into the zoo, and it was depressing. Now, I go out into the zoo, and it’s like — wow, I’ve come into my own private world of wildlife.”
Much like humans, animals are creatures of habit. “They have routines that they go through each and every day, and when those routines are changed, it does add, I believe, a certain amount of stress to their routine,” according to Magill. “We at the zoo have tried to keep the routine as regular as possible. We’re still doing everything we do with them. We’re going through enrichment programs with them. We haven’t had any animal get sick or seem depressed.”
Wildlife has also been thriving outside the zoo along Florida’s beaches like never before in Magill’s experience.
“We’re seeing manta rays, lots of dolphins coming into canals and estuaries. The water is crystal, crystal clear — not tons of sediments from all the people in it, and not sunscreen oil floating on the top and all that other stuff.”
His message to Americans stuck at home is to take the time to appreciate nature to the extent possible, even if it’s in their own backyard.
“It shows that when given a chance, the Earth can rebound. I’m not saying that we have to stay in lockdown all the time, but I think it’s a ray of positive hope to all of us that if we try hard, if we compromise, that we can coexist with nature,” Magill said. “We just need to give it a chance.”