Five animals killed at Wild Animal Safari in Sunday’s tornado, thousands of trees down as cleanup continues – LaGrange Daily News

Timothy Hill

5 animals killed at Wild Animal Safari in Sunday’s twister, hundreds of trees down as cleanup continues

Revealed 4:01 pm Friday, March 31, 2023

The Wild Animal Safari in Pine Mountain is generally a joyous spot filled with persons of all ages. Each and every few minutes, you can generally hear the hilarious scream of somebody who acquired animal slobber on their hands or the stunned reaction of someone who didn’t be expecting a zebra or giraffe to occur ideal up to their window.

And, with Spring Split about to start out in Troup County, this would generally be the busiest 7 days of the overall 12 months for the vacationer attraction, which provides in a very little in excess of 200,000 attendees for every calendar year.

Alternatively, the seems of laughter are changed by chainsaws, welding gear and design autos, all part of clean up-up attempts immediately after an EF-3 tornado strike the park Sunday causing hundreds of trees to fall and ensuing in substantial hurt to structures, fences and enclosures.

“Basically, our total walkabout, there’s not a solitary show that was untouched,” said zoo director Katie Harrison.

There are 2,000 to 3,000 trees down, according to Mark Whitfield, govt vice president of Parks The us, who owns the Wild Animal Safari and two related parks in Missouri and Texas. 5 animals — a new guinea singing pet dog, capybara, peacock, miniature zebu and fallow deer — were killed in Sunday’s storm.

Harrison, who has been the zoo director for 10 years, will get choked up conversing about the animals that did not survive.

“I cannot speak about it also considerably or I’m likely to cry,” she reported at a press meeting Friday. “… This is my pleasure and joy. My household.”

A further handful of animals acquired minimal injuries, Harrison claimed. A veterinarian from Zoo Atlanta came down next the storm to aid take care of the animals.

Zoo Atlanta Spokesperson Rachel Davis claimed a group from Zoo Atlanta went to the safari Sunday, like associates from the zoo’s animal treatment, facilities, horticulture, and veterinary teams.

“Our groups assisted in making certain that animal areas were being safe, assisted with downed trees, and helped prepare animal diet plans,” Davis stated.

The animal safari grew to become a nationwide topic Sunday following two tigers escaped their enclosures when the storm arrived as a result of. The two tigers have been identified in just a couple hours — both equally inside the confines of the park. And both of those — precisely a white Bengal tiger and a liger — ended up safe.

“My team knew what to do. They had been entirely experienced on it. They received everybody tranquilized and back where they needed to go,” Harrison reported. “They never ever left the assets. I’m so, so happy of my staff.”

Harrison said she was planning to go to the animal safari following the tornado warning expired about 7:30 a.m. Sunday. As a substitute, she been given a connect with urging her to get to the park quickly.

“We experienced someone here on internet site, who referred to as me and reported ‘you have to have to get listed here now,” Harrison said.

The a single employees member who was at the park rode out the storm beneath a little place, close to exactly where the walkabout location commences.

The aftermath of the storm was trees down just about everywhere, animals that desired to be moved quickly to their sister park in Missouri and a large amount of perform to get reopened.

“It honestly could’ve been a lot even worse,” Harrison reported, looking over the weakened home.

The park hopes to reopen in early April, however no certain day is regarded still with substantially cleanup still left underway.

“[Spring break] is basically our busiest week of the complete calendar year each 12 months, so we are using a large strike there,” Harrison stated. “But we have received to do what we have to do to maintain the public and the animals safe and sound. That is our leading precedence.”

Whitfield when compared not getting open up for Spring Split to the cancellation of a important occasion.

“Imagine the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade exactly where an function happened in which you could not have the parade,” he stated.

Nevertheless, he reported the Wild Animal Safari is not heading to be deterred by this storm and will rebuild.

“The spring split at any park at any zoo at any Wild Animal Safari Park generally is a quite, extremely hectic time to the park and, and for us, it’s just one of the busiest weeks of the calendar year. So the fiscal impression is major and significant,” Whitfield explained. “But Parks The us, the mum or dad business, and Wild Animal Safari, we’re in this business enterprise for the prolonged haul, we’re in this community for the lengthy haul. We’ve been listed here for 30 many years and a tornado is not heading to chase us out.”

In the aftermath of the storm, PETA issued a statement contacting for the escaped tigers to go to an animal sanctuary.

“Wild Animal Safari’s extensive heritage of leaving enclosures in disrepair and its apparent unwillingness to program for a pure disaster built the escape of hazardous tigers unavoidable,” stated PETA Basis Director of Captive Animal Welfare Debbie Metzler. “Before this roadside zoo threats the public’s and big cats’ lives again, PETA is contacting for the feds to crack down on the shady safari and for the animals to go to trustworthy sanctuaries that know how to give them the care they need and get ready for the worst.”

Whitfield stated he experienced not witnessed the PETA statement, but he mentioned the Wild Animal Safari can take very very good treatment of its animals.

“Our parks, a pair of weeks prior to this, you know just handed a further USDA inspection. We passed it with traveling colours,” he mentioned. “We treatment for our animals greater than any individual. Our animals are incredibly considerably nicely fed by us and all the vitamins and that we give them and then by our friends. Our animals are really nicely cared for. When you have a category three twister with a immediate hit, you know, seem what took place to houses and businesses across this terrific point out of Ga. Absolutely nothing can stand up to that.”

Harrison and Whitfield thanked Callaway Gardens and other Pine Mountain neighbors for encouraging with cleanup initiatives. Callaway Gardens also fed the safari personnel previously this week.

She urged any individual who would like to enable to carry on supporting the safari.

“Just keep supporting us. Maintain sending all those constructive vibes,” she said. “That helps our crew. Just to see all people who cares and loves us so much. Retain sending the really like. Which is what we require correct now.”

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