Social media and the news outlets have been saturated with coverage of the coronavirus pandemic. Information about COVID-19 infection rates and the mounting death toll has cast a dark shadow around the world. But, there is one unexpected silver lining to the outbreak. While people hunker down indoors amid strict stay-at-home orders, wildlife appears to be thriving.
From San Francisco’s curious coyotes to North Wales’ rambunctious mountain goats—here are 13 feel-good stories about wild animals flourishing during quarantine to help put a smile on your face.
1. Sea Turtles Nest On A Vacant Beach
Earlier this month, more than 70,000 olive ridley sea turtles were seen nesting on an Indian beach that was left deserted by lockdown orders. The coast of the eastern Indian state of Odisha is one of the largest mass nesting sites for the sea turtles.
The olive ridleys didn’t venture to the coast for their annual nesting last year, according to Business Insider. Although some blame natural disasters for the sea turtles’ absence, others say lockdowns amid COVID-19 allowed the olive ridleys to nest undisturbed by humans.
2. Lions Nap On Deserted Roads
A pride of lions residing in South Africa’s Kruger National Park took advantage of the lapse in tourists by napping on an empty road. The lions normally sleep in bushes but appeared to be enjoying their newfound, leisurely freedoms amid the coronavirus lockdown.
Due to the pandemic, Kruger National Park has been closed since the end of March. The park’s media officer, Isaac Phaala, said the lions were napping on the road because it was dry and they don’t like lying on wet grass. “Under normal circumstances, there would be traffic and that pushes them into the bush,” Phaala told CNN.
3. Goats Explore A Town In North Wales
Herds of mountain goats overtook the town of Llandudno in North Wales last month. The normally timid goats sauntered down the town’s empty streets, brazenly peered through windows, and shamelessly grazed on resident’s hedges.
One resident, named Mark Richards, jokingly told CNN he no longer needed to trim his hedges thanks to the goats’ landscaping skills. “They are becoming more and more confident with no people,” he said.
4. Sea Turtles Hatch On Empty Beaches
Nearly 100 critically endangered hawksbill sea turtles hatched on a Brazilian beach that was also left deserted by humans amid the coronavirus outbreak.
The Guardian reports 97 hawksbill sea turtles hatched last month in Paulista, a city in the north-eastern state of Pernambuco. Prior to the mass-hatching, Governor Paulo Câmara ordered a partial shutdown of Pernambuco. He urged city residents to practice self-isolation in order to reduce the spread of the coronavirus.
5. Coyotes Wander San Francisco Streets
Amid San Francisco’s shelter-in-place order, residents have seen coyotes roaming the city’s urban sprawls. Coyotes are usually habitually reclusive; however, the absence of humans due to COVID-19 has left the city largely free of cars and foot traffic.
Curious coyotes, emboldened by the empty roads, have taken advantage of the desolate streets, even occasionally wandering along the deserted beaches.
6. Peacocks Take Over Mumbai
Mischievous peacocks had a field day in Mumbai, a city located on India’s west coast. Mumbai-based photographer Manav Manglani captured the moment a muster of peacocks swarmed the city. The colorful peafowl danced atop cars and pranced through the city streets as Mumbai residents hunkered indoors during India’s lockdown—which took effect in March.
“Beautiful peacocks having a field day on the streets of Babulnath in Mumbai,” Manglani captioned on Instagram alongside photos of the peacocks.
7. Wildlife Reclaim Yosemite National Park
COVID-19 forced Yosemite National Park—which is located in California’s Sierra Nevada mountains—to temporarily close last month. The park, which sees millions of visitors each year, hasn’t remained barren, however.
A reduction in tourists clogging up trails has allowed countless wild animals to reclaim the land. Bobcats, bears, and coyotes have been spotted frolicking near pathways and trails.
8. Jellyfish Swim Through Clear Canals
— Charlotte Simmonds (@CharSimmonds) March 20, 2020
9. Wild Turkeys Strut Through Oakland, CA
Gangs of wild turkeys have been strutting through the city of Oakland, Ca. Charlotte Simmonds, an editor for the Guardian, spotted the winged explorers playing in an empty local school. “Spotted on the playground at the elementary school next door, which has been closed for several days … wild turkeys! That’s a first,” she tweeted.
10. Dolphins Swim Through Ports
Dolphins are getting frisky in the ports of Cagliari, the capital city of the Italian island of Sardinia. A passer-by captured dolphins swimming in the city’s port and posted the moment on YouTube.
The dolphins don’t typically swim in the port—which is normally reserved for ferries—but were able to explore it undisturbed by boats or humans.
11. Raccoons Enjoy the Beach
The beaches of San Felipe, Panama—which have been deserted due to coronavirus—finally had visitors. Raccoons took in the breeze along the Panamanian beaches.
“There were three raccoons, just frolicking along right at the edge of the surf,” Matt Larsen, director of the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute in Panama, told the Guardian. “I’ve lived here six years, and it was something I had never seen before.”
In more news of animals taking back the streets: Family of wild boars ? goes on a tour of Marmaris #Turkey.
Country imposed 4-day lockdown in 30 provinces yesterday: pic.twitter.com/RmPJ27l6pI
— Joyce Karam (@Joyce_Karam) April 24, 2020
12. Wild Pigs Reclaim Turkey’s Streets
Amidst the lockdown, wild pigs took to the streets of one of Turkey’s most popular tourist destinations: Marmaris. Marmaris, which is located on the Turkish Riviera, also known as the Turquoise Coast, is a Mediterranean resort town well-known for its restaurants and ports.
“In more news of animals taking back the streets: Family of wild boars Boar goes on a tour of Marmaris #Turkey,” Joyce Karam, the Washington correspondent for Middle Eastern news source The National wrote on Twitter.
Istanbul’s dolphins now hang out very close to the shore, where iconic Ortakoy mosque and Bosporus bridge located pic.twitter.com/rtzfHpMClD
— Ragıp Soylu (@ragipsoylu) April 23, 2020
13. Dolphins Swim Along Istanbul’s Coast
Amid lockdown, Istanbul’s streets and waterways have seen far less traffic, allowing dolphins to swim undisturbed by people and boats.
“A decrease in boat and human traffic across the Bosphorus has a big impact,” Erol Orkcu, head of the amateur and sports fishing association in Istanbul, told AFP.
He added: “Terrestrial and aquatic living things can remain free without human beings. That enables dolphins to come closer to the shoreline.”
14. Whales Get Talkative
Researchers near the port of Vancouver, Canada, have discovered a significant drop in the amount of noise in the water. Experts believe that this is an opportune moment to study the effect that quieter waters have on marine life, such as whales.
“We are facing a moment of truth,” Michelle Fournet, a marine acoustician at Cornell University, who studies humpback whales in south-east Alaska, told The Guardian. “We have an opportunity to listen—and that opportunity to listen will not appear again in our lifetime.”
Fournet explained that whales emit fewer calls when the port is busy. She expects that the reduced ship traffic is an “opportunity for whales to have more conversation and to have more complex conversation.”