Zoo On The Move

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Friday, May 27, 2011 - 10:46am

Flood waters force animals out of Dakota Zoo.

Animals at Bismarck, North Dakota's Dakota Zoo were waiting for the ark to arrive Thursday morning.

They're leaving for higher ground.

Dakota Zoo Director Terry Lincoln is working around the clock to save his animals from rising flood waters.

"We have a big sandbag operation going on today. Meanwhile, we've got folks in from area zoos as far away as Watertown, South Dakota, and Bear Country in Rapid City here to help out and moving some of the animals that really need to get out," Lincoln says.

That includes some of the big cats, who weren't quite sure what was happening with all the activity around them before they were tranquilized.

"For example, our tigers, they'll come up and we can just hand inject them through the fence, give them a little sedative to get them in the crate," he says.

They were just some of the more than 100 animals being loaded onto trailers.

"Some of the other animals, we've got corrals open for them, so they should walk into those easily and then into a trailer," says Lincoln.

Some animals, like parrots and monkeys, won't be moved unless the water continues to rise.

"We're hopeful we end up saying maybe we didn't have to move the animals, but we certainly want to be safe rather than sorry," he says.

Their buildings will be protected by sandbags, which volunteers began unloading in the early morning hours.

Lincoln says they learned a lot about the zoo's vulnerabilities to flooding in 2009, when an ice jam made them take a closer look at their elevation as it relates to the river.

They had an evacuation plan in place before them, but were able to refine it, although they hoped to never have to use it.
 

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