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Preparation-for-Erika

Staff members at the Palm Beach Zoo & Conservation Society have begun prepping for what is now Tropical Storm Erika. While Erika has weakened in strength and shifted its trajectory, storm prep is continuing in earnest.

The Zoo’s Safety Committee began planning for hurricane season in early May reviewing and revamping storm preparation protocols and procedures. Come June and July, wildlife care and conservation, maintenance and facilities, horticulture, and administrative staff were given specific tasks to ensure the Zoo’s 500+ animals, 60-year old botanical collection, and extensive infrastructure can withstand storms of varying intensity.

Jan Steele, general curator of the Zoo said, “We have learned from past storms what works and what does not and we are continuously working on fine tuning and revising our emergency procedures. We are in fantastic shape to provide for the 500 plus animals entrusted to our care.”

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Preparations include:

· Ensuring enough food and water to last for several days to a week is onsite for the animal collection;
· Placing windbreaks on exhibits, buildings, and holding areas such as plywood and/or plastic sheeting;
· Bracing and trimming of trees that are in need of such attention;
· Working out a “relocation” plan for animals that may need to be brought indoors including sorting and gathering of kennels in addition to providing for animals that are under direct medical care by the Zoo’s veterinary staff;
· Obtaining several large generators to keep the Melvin J. & Claire Levine Animal Care Complex, animal commissary, well and pump systems, and freezers operational;
· Reserving a large crane to upright trees should it be needed following a storm;
· Alerting the Zoo’s “Ride Out” Team who will remain on site to care for the animals during and immediately following a storm;
· And of course the preparations all South Floridians know too well – the ordering of plywood, filling of gas tanks, and stockpiling batteries for flashlights, fans, various pieces of medical equipment, radios, and walkie talkies.

At this time, the Palm Beach Zoo will remain open through Sunday evening, at which time Leadership staff will make the determination as to whether the Zoo will be open on Monday and Tuesday of the coming week.

Pending the intensity level of winds and amount of rainfall, volunteer assistance may be required to assist with recovery efforts. A call for volunteers will be given at that time should it be necessary on our Facebook page (www.facebook.com/palmbeachzoo).

“As a non-profit organization dedicated to wildlife care and conservation, it is imperative that we reopen to the public as soon as safety allows following any storm” said Andrew Aiken, president & CEO. “Admission revenue is vital in providing first-class care for our animals making volunteer assistance in getting us back open all the more important during storm season. Without the generosity of volunteers, our staff would be overwhelmed with clean-up.”

Please be advised of the following information regarding volunteering onsite:

· Must be 18 or over – sorry, no exceptions.
· Come dressed for physical work – lots of raking, sweeping, and/or lifting.
· Must wear closed toe shoes and bring work gloves if possible.
· Rakes, push brooms, and wheel barrels would be most welcome.
· Questions may be directed to Ben Duval, Volunteer Programs Manager at (561) 533-0887 ext. 239 or ben@palmbeachzoo.org.

Should you wish to assist in any recovery efforts by a different means or if you know of someone who may wish to, please contact the Zoo’s main office by calling 561-533-0887 or via email info@palmbeachzoo.org.

The Zoological Society of the Palm Beaches exists to inspire people to act on behalf of wildlife and the natural world. For more information on the Palm Beach Zoo’s 700+ animals, worldwide conservation and education programs, special events and annual memberships, please visit us online.

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