April 17, 2020 | 2:28pm | Updated April 17, 2020 | 3:30pm
With no human visitors, a pride of lions took to an empty road in the popular Kruger National Park to nap.
Kruger National Park
Afoot and light-hearted, they’re taking to the open road.
Amid the global lockdowns to curb the spread of the coronavirus, striking images taken in South Africa’s popular Kruger National Park — which has remained shut since March 25 — show a pride of some 15 lions napping in the middle of an empty paved road.
CNN reports that on any typical day, this area would be packed with tourists on safari excursions. But that doesn’t mean that the travelers would get to experience this sight.
“This lion pride are usually resident on Kempiana Contractual Park, an area Kruger tourists do not see,” the park tweeted Wednesday. “This afternoon they were lying on the tar road just outside of Orpen Rest Camp.”
That isn’t the only atypical sight.
“Lying on the road during the daytime is unusual because under normal circumstances there would be traffic and that pushes them into the bush,” Kruger spokesman Isaac Phaahla tells CNN. “They just occupy places they would normally shun when there are tourists … People should remember that [Kruger] is still a largely wild area and in the absence of humans, wildlife is more active.”
It isn’t just Kruger that’s shut down. Despite initially announcing a 21-day lockdown for the country, South African President Cyril Ramaphosa said in early April that he would extend the quarantine at least until the end of the month.
This isn’t just a sight limited to South Africa. Worldwide, with the coronavirus keeping humans inside, wild animals have taken to the streets to have their own play — even in cities. People in New Delhi have spotted monkeys looking for food in an alleyway lined with closed shops. In Venice, Italy, clear blue canals have lured swans and fish before tourists return in gondolas.
Here’s a look at some more.
You goat to be kidding me
In the north of Wales, herds of wild mountain goats have claimed the empty streets of Llandudno as their own. Known as the Great Orme Kashmiri goats, they typically live on a nearby hill that looks over the town, rarely heading into it. North Wales police reportedly said the agency received a call about the wandering herd — which had been grazing on people’s hedges and gardens — but there was no need to intervene.
“We are not aware of officers attending to them as they usually make their own way back,” the police said.
A purrfect match
More locally, 50-year-old Latonya “Sassee” Walker — who’s cared for Canarsie’s wild cat population for a decade, has doubled the number of cats she looks after. She told The Post that typically she cares for four colonies of feral cats. But with many elderly folks stuck inside, she’s taken on more. She brings the cats dry food, wet food and water, predicting she’ll spend more than $600 this month because with restaurants shut, there’s no garbage for them to eat. She’s even brought them in to be spayed and neutered.
“The cats have no clue what’s going on because nothing has changed for them,” she says. “It’s not in my DNA to see a cat suffering and not do anything about it. I’m equipped to make a cat’s life better, so I’m going to.”
March of the penguins
In March, with Chicago’s Shedd Aquarium closed to the public, penguins got the opportunity to explore their home thanks to no human visitors wandering about.
“Without guests in the building, caretakers are getting creative in how they provide enrichment to animals,” the aquarium told the Chicago Tribune. “Introducing new experiences, activities, foods and more to keep them active, encourages them to explore, problem-solve and express natural behaviors.”
That means some penguins got to meet other aquarium inhabitants. One of them, a penguin named Wellington, saw Shedd’s Amazon Rising exhibit, looking around at the fish tanks with his head spinning in wonder. The fish even looked back.
“The black-barred silver dollars also seemed interested in their unusual visitors,” the caretakers tweeted.