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Wildlife Images prepares to reopen its doors

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Wildlife Images Rehabilitation and Education Center is preparing to reopen after shutting its doors to customers in March due to COVID-19.

After over a month of closure, Erin Maxson, Public Relations Manager for Wildlife Images, said it takes a lot of time and effort to prepare for reopening.

“We have to build our staffing back up and we’re bringing back the people that were temporarily laid off during this time,” Maxson said.

Maxson said in addition to the re-opening preparations staff is also conducting regular maintenance such as repainting the parking lot and adding signage.

Since the closure, Maxson said they have drastically decreased their staff and closed their doors to anyone who is not an essential employee.

She said those working included "those working on maintenance things to keep us physically running and animal care was on campus every day."

Maxson noted that all essential employees are required to wear masks and management has instituted additional cleaning procedures.

Because of staff reduction, Maxson said caring for all of the animals while still trying to deliver things like virtual education, has been tough.

“We have fewer people and only essential people, and they have to take care of all of the animals. We have over 100 (animals) that we take care of full time around the clock,” Maxson said.

Maxson said she still does not have an exact date of when they will be able to reopen to the public but hopes it will be sooner rather than later.

"Just like everybody else, we are waiting to find out when that will be. It feels like it’s coming sometime soon in the month of May,” she said.

Because maintaining social distance in their park is relatively easy, Maxton said she believes they are a good candidate for the first phase of re-opening.

"We were one of the last places to kind of close down, we felt an obligation to offer people a place to go and we're hoping that we'll be one of the first places to open up because we can still maintain that social distancing," Maxson said.

In the meantime, Maxson said they are continuing their virtual lessons and pairing up with the Medford School District to air a "virtual field trip" on TV.

One of the Wildlife Images animals eating its food (Courtesy to Wildlife Images/News 10)