California's Yosemite National Park joined the list of parks that have closed due to the novel coronavirus pandemic on March 20, and as the Los Angeles Times reports, animals are now using the lockdown as an opportunity to reclaim the space.
In April of last year, 308,000 guests entered the park. Today, there are zero visitors, and its human occupants consist of fewer than 200 park service employees, an unknown number of concessionaire workers, and the full-time residents living within its boundaries.
With fewer tourists clogging the trails, the local wildlife now has free rein of Yosemite Valley. Bears, bobcats, and coyotes have been spotted near paths and buildings normally bustling with human activity. There are also fewer cars on the park's roadways, and the lack of exhaust and noise pollution have made Yosemite a safer, more hospitable environment for its original inhabitants.
This isn't the first time Yosemite's wildlife has come out into the open en masse. During every past government shutdown, including the one in 2019, the animals took advantage of their new space and privacy. This time around they'll have plenty of time to enjoy the change: Yosemite's current closure is expected to be the longest in the park's history.
You may not be able to see its wildlife in person, but you can take a virtual tour of Yosemite from your living room. Here are even more national parks and cultural institutions you can visit online.
[h/t Los Angeles Time]