By Don Ford

OAKLAND (KPIX 5) — Since there are no visitors due to the shelter-in-place, the Oakland Zoo says it will bring the animals to the people virtually with a new subscription-based feature video segment on the zoo’s website.

The segment is called “Oakland Zoo Behind the Scenes.” President and CEO of Oakland Zoo, Joel Parrott, says starting Thursday the segment will be live and interactive at 2:30 p.m.

“We hope to reengage with our public since they can’t be here, we want to keep them involved, and we want to stay involved with them so that they can still benefit from the animals that are here at the Zoo,” Parrott said.

Wednesday was rehearsal day. Production of the 30 minute broadcast, with guests, Monday through Friday, with only four people, is no easy task.

But the zoo employees are not amateurs. Show host Michelle Myers comes from San Diego, where she hosted a similar children’s animal show. She says while watching, viewers can send questions live on the air to zoo specialists.

“We have a ton of experts here. All of our animal care staff are really honed in, especially in the animals that they take care of,” Myers said.

With a perky host, professional camera crew and interesting animals, the show certainly has promise.

Lion keepers ring a hand bell to gather the large cats in one spot. Using a hammer pounding on the cement wall creates a very different sound that triggers the lions to urgently return to their shelters.

“So that in the case of a tree down or an earthquake, or any reason that we need them to come right away, they know to come right away,” says lion keeper Stacy Picone.

Members can subscribe to the zoo’s interactive show for $9.95 a month, with the first 30 days being free. Non-members can subscribe for $14.95 a month.

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