For Minnesotans who need a break from the bleak news filling up their timeline or Twitter feed, the Minnesota Zoo is there to help.
The Apple Valley zoo updates its social media feed with daily photos of tigers cuddling up to one another, penguins posing for the camera, or behind-the-scenes images of zookeepers at work.
Communication manager Josh Le has a method to how he runs each of the social media accounts.
Le uses the zoo’s Google Plus account to engage international audiences and classrooms. Facebook is a bit more informal, and he tends to be brief and post more photos of the animals, which is similar to how he runs Instagram. With each post, Le said, he tries to include a link to the zoo’s website (mnzoo.org) for visitors to learn more about its conservation efforts.
“We like to have to fun,” he said. “We can be playful in those areas.”
Visitors to the social media accounts often ask questions about the animals and their training or simply comment on their cuteness.
“We always try on all of our social media channels to be pretty responsive,” Le said.
Zookeepers took over the zoo’s social media on Jan. 11. One zookeeper showed off Cleo, a 2-year-old fennec fox, curled up in her cat bed. The photo has more than 1,000 likes.
But no other animals at the zoo get as much attention as its newborns. Baby penguins and snow monkeys are the latest additions.
Le said snapping a picture of the newborns can be difficult with a protective mother nearby.
The zoo does not have a full-time staff photographer but relies on volunteers and interns to grab a photo. Visitors are also welcome to take pictures and upload them to the zoo’s Flickr account.
The zoo is experimenting with video streaming services like Periscope to give visitors an up-close look at their favorite animals.