In Venice, the boats and ferries that used to fill up the canals with hundreds of tourists were now replaced by fishes and even ducks, swimming in clear water. In Japan, hungry deer are taking to the streets; and in Thailand, rival gangs of monkeys are squaring it off in cities.
No, it’s not a Hollywood scenario — nature is starting to reclaim quarantined cities.
Stay at home. That’s the main message by governments across the world to try to stop the spread of the coronavirus. Many cities, especially in the more affected areas, have been virtually shut off. But, as people withdraw from the outer world, animals are coming in.
All journeys in Venice are now forbidden as part of a set of strict rules of self-confinement, with the only exceptions being walking your dog or buying groceries.
This has led to motorboat taxis, transport and even gondolas emptying the cities’ canals, now taken over by wildlife.
“The water is blue and clear,” hotel manager Gloria Beggiato told The Guardian. “It is calm like a pond, because there are no more waves caused by motorized boats transporting day-tripper tourists. And of course, the giant cruise ships have disappeared.”
Venice isn’t the only city where animals are strolling into town.
In the city of Nara, Japan people reported in their social media seeing hungry deer in the streets and subway stations.
The deer are reportedly eating potted plants due to a lack of tourists to feed them.
The Nara Park, a popular tourist attraction in Japan, has over 1,000 deer that rarely go outside the 1,240 acres of the park. Until now, that is.
Visitors to the park usually buy rice crackers to feed the deer. Now, with no tourists, the deer began wandering into the city searching for food. Doing so can be risky for them, experts warned, as they can be hit by cars or eat plastic bags, or even get lost.
Meanwhile, in Thailand, two gangs of monkeys are reportedly fighting for supremacy in the city’s mostly-empty plaza. In a video that went viral, the monkey groups started a 10minute fight against each other, leaving the few bystanders shocked.
Here too, the cause might be a shortage of food brought in by declining tourist numbers.
The animals live in the Phra Prang Sam Yot monkey temple but they are dealing with a scarcity of food due to the lack of tourists in the area. That has led them to go into the city and try to get some food.
“The fall in tourist numbers because of Covid-19 may have indeed brought about a shortage of food supply for them,” Asmita Sengupta, an ecologist, told The New York Times. “Feeding the monkeys can have detrimental effects. Once they get used to being fed by humans, they become habituated to humans.”
The effect that the lack of tourists to feed the animals will have on the animals remains to be seen. But experts believe that most of them will likely be fine.
“Most animals living in urban environments already have flexible diets, so chances are good that a lot of these animals are going to be OK,” Christopher Schell, an urban ecologist at the University of Washington, told the NYT.
EDIT: There are multiple stories floating around social media about dolphins in Venice and elephants in tea fields. These are not true and are misleading.