Hurricane Ian left extensive damage as it passed through Florida. Homeowners and businesses did what they could to prep for the storm.
Zoos and other animal care facilities couldn’t simply evacuate until the storm passed. Ashlee Sklute, public information specialist with Florida Fish and Wildlife, told reporters that all licensed captive wildlife owners have a Critical Incident Plan (CIP). A CIP outlines what steps will be taken to reduce the risk of escape and harm to the animals during an event such as Hurricane Ian. Days before the hurricane hit the coast, zookeepers, veterinarians, and other animal professionals stocked up on food, water, medications, and other supplies required by the animals. Many animals were temporarily housed in raised pens and containment areas.
No one likes to think about emergencies and that’s the reason a facility must scramble to find solutions when an incident arises. Zoo Miami had to heard their Caribbean Flamingos into a rest room when Hurricane Andrew hit back in 1992. Today they have an aviary that can withstand the force of a hurricane. Having a plan and proper equipment can make an otherwise chaotic event pass with minimal stress, and save precious time that could be spent on other tasks.
Here are some simple ideas that you can adapt to your facility.
- A large animal cart is an easy way to quickly roll individual animals to another location. You use the same cart to transport several smaller animals at one time too. Carts with bars can be less stressful than an enclosed crate, depending on the animal and temperament.
- If you’re moving large reptiles, like crocs and alligators, an enclosed cart has proven to work well. Instead of having thrashing arms and legs sticking out of the bars, an enclosed cage or wheeled cart keeps the animal contained.
- A rolling bird cage can function as a temporary home for a large bird, like macaws and cockatoos. It can also make it easier to transport a collection of small birds like finches. Be sure to provide a perch or two.
- Facilities often use raised flooring to keep pens and animals above ground level. This can help with sanitation and minor flooding. An old pallet can do the job in an emergency but there are also engineered devices that raise pens and animals above water and dampness that are more sanitary in daily use.
- Don’t forget to keep supplies elevated too. An aluminum dunnage rack is easy to move and makes it simple to stack supplies wherever they are needed.
Need more ideas? The Zoo and Aquarium All Hazards Partnership has a series of online videos that provide guidance in hazard preparedness. Once plans are in place, put the plans to the test and see if they can be refined.
Otto Environmental products are easily incorporated into emergency transport and housing plans. You’ll find more information on our website. Contact us for assistance with specifications and customization.