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Have you ever wondered what a zoo would do in the event of a wildfire?

Blog Post created by faithberry Employee on Jun 14, 2019

stork with an orange bill standing in its habitat at the Franklin Zoo

In light of recent large wildfires occurring across the United States, have you ever wondered what would happen if places like large cities, stadiums, or Zoos were threatened by wildfire?  Just like homes and neighborhoods steps can be taken to reduce the risk of loss of these places in wildfire prone areas.

National Geographic recently shared an article, How Zoos Protect and Evacuate Animals During a Wildfire,  about steps a couple of Southern California zoos have taken to protect their current animal residents to help make them safer from wildfire.  Many of these sites abut up to areas that have been impacted by wildfires in the past. Some of the animal residents are listed as endangered or threatened species, so their death or injury would impact the global gene pool of these species, therefore steps taken to protect them are very important.  

According to the article the Association of Zoos and Aquariums requires its accredited members to have plans in place for events such as wildfires, earthquakes and floods.   Plan details implemented by a couple of the zoos shared in the article include;

  1.  Having pre-planned emergency drills where staff members practice crating animals and having supplies including food and medicines ready.   Some animals are moved well in advance of the fire because they are listed as endangered or threatened.
  2. Some animals (like birds) are pre-planned to be moved to safe areas like inside rooms to reduce damage smoke could cause and some bigger animals are put in areas where vegetation has been removed because they are so large and crating could cause greater injury to them like elephants and giraffes.
  3. Steps have been taken to reduce or modify vegetation in and around the facility to reduce the risk of loss to wildfire.
  4. Crates and containers with food are stored close to animal enclosures to help speed the evacuation process.
  5. Some dangerous animals are pre-planned to be moved to other zoos that can care for them properly early in the evacuation process.

The importance of pre-planning insures that animals at zoos and aquarium facilities will be kept safe in the event of a wildfire.  This is also an important concept for pet owners living in wildfire prone regions.  Preplanning to get your beloved animals out of harm’s way in the event of a wildfire will not only keep them safer but will also help you evacuate more quickly and safely.

 

Photo credit: Faith Berry

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