Animals at Primate Sanctuary Freeze Amid Texas Power Outage

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A chimpanzee, several monkeys, some lemurs and an uncounted number of birds died when a nonprofit San Antonio-area wildlife sanctuary lost power early Monday, yet another casualty of unforgiving winter weather that has seized much of Texas.

Brooke Chavez, executive director of Primarily Primates, told the San Antonio Express-News that the power went out about 6 a.m. Monday at the 70-acre sanctuary that housed more than 400 primates.

Heavy snow and frigid temperatures continue to grip much of the nation, with weather advisories stretching from the northeast to the southwest. More than ten deaths have been blamed on the weather and millions of people have been forced to endure the cold conditions without power. The deep freeze is also hitting the Deep South, where states like Texas and Mississippi saw rare snowfalls as powerful storms caused damage across the Carolinas Monday night.

Chavez said her 12 staff members and volunteers mobilized generators, space heaters, propane tanks and blankets in an effort to save the residents. As temperatures reached single-digit levels, the staff broke out carriers to evacuate animals to the San Antonio Zoo and another sanctuary in North Texas, but Chavez said she and her staff began to find dead animals throughout the sanctuary.

“I never, ever thought my office would turn into a morgue, but it has,” she said. “Someone asked me how many animals have died. I don’t know yet. I know we lost lots of monkeys, lemurs and tropical birds... We won’t truly know how many animals have died until the temperatures rise and the snow starts to melt.”

Now, with the big freeze expected to continue for a few more days and the electric grid for most of Texas ordering more rolling blackouts, Chavez and her staff asked for the public’s help to protect the sanctuary's animals, most of which are elderly. Many animals remain at the sanctuary, including 33 chimpanzees that were too difficult to transport.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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