brevard zoo strives to make sure each animal is safe during hurricane season
BREVARD COUNTY • MELBOURNE, FLORIDA – Everyone in Brevard County, from residents to our Zoo staff, needs to be prepared for the possibility of a hurricane by the start of hurricane season.
Before the Storm
All our departments update their hurricane plans each year. The Zoo’s overall plan is also updated.
This plan specifies the general tasks each Zoo department needs to handle before, during and after the storm – from fueling all the Zoo vehicles ahead of the storm to inspecting our Treetop Trek adventure course afterward. During hurricane season, our animal commissary is also expected to always keep a minimum two-week supply of diets.
Our animal department’s hurricane plans go loop-by-loop, specifying where each of our animal residents needs to be housed during the storm. Once a tropical storm or hurricane watch is issued for our area, our animal care team begins preparing emergency holding areas for their future residents as well as the secure carriers needed to move them.
For most storms, evacuating our animals is unnecessary. An extreme scenario – like the Zoo being completely underwater – would require us to evacuate, said Zach Marchetti, our Curator of Donor Engagement and Animal Experiences.
“We maintain relationships with other AZA zoos and affiliated organizations that help coordinate emergency animal moves,” Zach said.
For some animals, remaining in their habitat is the safest and less stressful option. Animals like our impalas require room to run and move as herd and would likely injure themselves if confined. Our alligators and crocodiles can submerge in their habitat and avoid the storm just like their native counterparts, making moving them unnecessarily.
Many animals are moved into their hurricane-reinforced night houses for all but the most severe storms. These animal residents include our lions, siamangs and Florida black bears.
During the Storm
A rideout team made up of 1-2 animal department staff members, a facilities staff member and a veterinary staff member remain onsite during the storm. If conditions allow in the eye of the storm, the team may perform checks throughout the Zoo.
“We care for the animals as completely and as often as weather allows,” Zach said.
Our new camera system will help our team monitor animals and conditions from remote areas as well!
After the Storm
Once the storm passes, our Deputy Director, Director of Facilities and Director of Animal Programs walk the Zoo grounds to ensure it’s safe for all our other staff members to start cleaning up debris.
Each department has its own set of tasks, in addition, to clean up but getting the Zoo ready for animal residents and guests is the priority. Once all is back to normal, we’re thrilled to welcome you back.
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