Going with the Flo - Conservators Center
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28 August 2018
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8 November 2018

Going with the Flo

Preparing for Hurricane Florence at a zoological park

Nearly every year around this time, a large storm threatens to cause mayhem and destruction somewhere in the coastal southeast. This time, a powerful hurricane churned in the Atlantic with meteorologists projecting a landfall and inland trajectory that would devastate our area.

Florence did indeed cause a great deal of devastation to the coastal Carolinas, causing widespread evacuations, leaving half a million people without power, and unfortunately taking the lives of more than 30 people. All of us here at the Center share in the heartbreak of the people affected by the storm.

We were very fortunate here, and though we experienced a bit of rain, we were largely left alone by Florence. It veered south as it made landfall and pivoted around us to the west. We are very thankful.

So how does a zoo prepare for a hurricane?

Our first priority here, always, is the welfare of our animal residents. To ensure their safety, our animal care staff reinforced enclosures, followed our emergency response plan, relocated animals to avoid any complications should trees fall, and moved some animals completely indoors.

An onsite team was assembled that would stay overnight during the storm, ready to respond to any possible damage or danger. The erratic behavior of the storm made it hard to predict when it might impact us, so our storm “ride out” team remained on site for several days around the clock, ensuring they would be on hand if needed.  We stocked up on canned food, water, coffee, and flashlights just in case we lost power. Vehicles and generators were filled up with gas. We moved all unanchored outdoor furniture and supplies inside. We made sure to have a surplus of food and medicine for the animals.

In the days just before Florence made landfall, the Center was filled with a sense of drive and urgency. Many of us expressed that we were unconcerned about our own personal property or comfort, and instead devoted our energy and effort into helping to prepare the park in any way we could.

Our Conservators Center Community went above and beyond to help assist. A few volunteers gave their time, cleaning denboxes and pressure-washing enclosures. One brought a TON of bananas for the binturongs (well, it looked like a ton, but you wouldn’t believe how many bananas three binturongs can go through). A few donated equipment to make care and protection of our animals easier during the storm. We were completely awash in well-wishes from our supporters.

It is in the face of possible disaster that we are most reminded of the importance of family. Our organization could not exist without the unending support we receive from those who believe in our mission and share the love that we have for our animals.

We cannot thank you all enough.