winter storm

Staff Keeping Watch Over Animals at Dallas, Fort Worth Zoos Amid Winter Storm

Animals at the Fort Worth Zoo explore their snowy habitats after a winter storm.
Fort Worth Zoo/Courtesy

As temperatures dropped and snow blanketed the parks, keepers at the Dallas and Fort Worth zoos rode out the winter storm to care for the animals.

Like The Dallas Zoo, which is not considered an essential location on the power grid, has had intermittent outages and a loss of water in some areas like the neighborhoods surrounding it, spokeswoman Kari Streiber said.

But, Streiber said, the animals are all healthy and doing well.

A team of 11 to 18 people from the animal care, veterinary, nutrition and facilities departments hunkered down in offices and other spaces onsite to monitor and respond to issues as they came up overnight, Streiber said.

In addition to that team, another group of staff stayed overnight for several nights to avoid deteriorating road conditions before their next shift, and additional staff came in each day for their regular shifts, she said.

With an eye on the weather, teams moved smaller animals around and inside other spaces that had heat as needed and brought generators and heaters around to stabilize the temperatures in the barns, she said.

For additional insulation, keepers used additional hay and plastic sheeting around doors and drafty spot, Streiber said.

The Dallas Zoo was closed Feb. 11 for ice, reopened again the next day, and has been closed since Feb. 13. The Dallas Zoo remains closed through Friday as they evaluate when it will be safe to reopen.

The Fort Worth Zoo grounds never lost power, but several pipes have burst throughout the park.

Zoo spokeswoman Avery Elander said keepers and staff have been onsite 24/7 to care and feed the animals, which have been in temperature-controlled barns with nesting materials and heat lamps.

On their days off, other zoo staff have stopped by to bring, blankets, towels, toiletries and snacks to the people who have hunkered down to keep watch over the animals, she said.

For the animals with access to their outdoor habitats, some have ventured out to play in the snow, but others have decided to stay inside, where they can have the snow brought to them as an enrichment activity, Elander said.

Operations staff have also been clearing pathways and removing snow from tents, tarps and overhangs, and engineers are monitoring electricity and plumbing, she said.

Elander said the Fort Worth Zoo hopes to open Friday at noon.

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