‘The Zoo: San Diego’ First Look: Meet Everest, the Baby Albino Wallaby (VIDEO)

Humans weren’t the only ones whose lives went into lockdown due to COVID-19. In Discovery+’s The Zoo: San Diego, viewers get a behind-the-scenes look at how the health crisis is also impacting animals.

In the cycle of opening, re-closing, and re-opening again, it’s been a turbulent time for the zoo’s inhabitants. But it doesn’t seem to be affecting two of the zoo’s wallabies, Thelma and her new joey (aka wallaby baby), Everest. In the sneak peek clip, above, Everest, who happens to be albino, gets some target training, which is when an animal is trained to touch a certain body part to a specific location (e.g., when you teach your dog to sit, you’re teaching him butt to floor).

Thelma and Everest are joining a third wallaby, named Bea, as ambassador animals, and all of the wallabies get some screen time in the sneak peek. Below, San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance Ambassador Rich Schwartz discusses the safety measures required to take care of the wallabies and other animals during the pandemic, and more.

What have been the biggest challenges of caring for the animals throughout the pandemic?

Rick Schwartz: Ensuring safety for the animals and the wildlife care staff. Animal Nutrition staff, Veterinary staff, Wildlife Care staff and so many more have been creative and flexible to keep everyone safe and healthy. In addition to personal protective equipment, teams are working with split schedules and split teams.

The Zoo San Diego Everest Wallaby

(Credit: Discovery+)

Are there any special protocols in place to protect them?

They’re similar to the protocols most people are experiencing. We are all wearing additional PPE, including masks, gloves, and face shields.

Everest is an albino wallaby, and in the clip we see that his space has a covering to keep out the sun. What other kind of special care is required?

It’s not too different from our care for the other wallabies. We are mindful of his sun exposure. Albinism is the absence of pigmentation, and that can leave the skin at risk for damage from the sun.

At what point can the wallabies share the same habitat? And is there a delay due to Everest’s age, or something else?

When we introduce animals to a shared habitat, we do not set a timeline. The amount of time it takes is always decided by the animals, in this case the wallabies. Our wildlife care team will observe each individual throughout the process, and communicate with each other about what they’re seeing. As the introductions move forward, the animals show us when they’re comfortable with each other.

The Zoo: San Diego, New Episodes, Saturdays, Discovery+