Animals stay put when wildfire threatens the zoo

Animals stay put when wildfire threatens thezoo

20 June 2008

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USA, Albuquerque — Even as the early morning bosque fire came within aquarter mile of the Rio Grande Zoo there was no plan to evacuate the animals.

And this is not the first time fire has threatened the zoo.  Flamesactually jumped onto the zoo grounds years ago before being extinguished.

Zoo administrators said the animals noticed the smoke today, but there wereno injuries.  There are several reasons there is no evacuation plan foranimals in place, the added.

First the cages and most of the structures are made out of cement and steelso are not flammable and in some cases are considered to be fireproof.

There are no suitable enclosures for 8,000-pound elephants, however.

Another factor is the danger of the animals that would need to be transported

“You can’t just take the gorilla by the hand, load them into a truck,”zoo manager Rick Janser said.  “You have to anesthetize them, andthere’s always a risk that the animal won’t come out of the anesthesia.

“So it’s less of a risk to keep the animals on grounds and justprotecting the facilities with water.”

There are fire hydrants throughout the facility, he added.

The big concern, though, is smoke inhalation.  The hope is that bringinganimals into fireproof buildings would shield them from that.

If a fire broke out at night zookeepers would know about it.  The zoo iswatched 24 hours a day seven days a week by private security and the AlbuquerquePolice Department.

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