How exotics fared
From ANIMAL PEOPLE, October 2005:
New Orleans Audubon Park Zoo president Ron Forman on October
3 told the World Association of Zoos & Aquariums annual conference in
New York that restoring the Audubon facilities would probably cost
“A skeleton staff of 12 struggled to feed and get water to
1,400 hungry and thirsty animals with limited emergency provisions,”
Oscar Corral of the Miami Herald reported on September 5. The crew
worked around “fallen palms, eucalyptus and willow trees blocking
the paths,” but “the animals mostly survived and are secure,”
“One of the huge alligators is missing,” Corral noted, “and
some birds died,” along with two otters and a raccoon.
The Audubon Aquarium of the Americas fared far worse, Corral
added. About a third of the 6,000 resident fish and other marine
animals died within a week of Katrina, due to loss of electricity to
run the water and air circulation systems. Most of the rest died
during the next week, Associated Press writer Daisy Nguyen reported.
Nineteen penguins and two sea otters were rescued and flown
to the Monterey Bay Aquarium on September 9.
Of the 10 white alligators belonging to the Audubon Park Zoo
and Aquarium of the Americas, only one named Thibodaux is known to
have survived–because he was on loan to Jenkinson’s Aquarium in
Point Pleasant, New Jersey.
The Houston Zoo and Moody Gardens took in some of the
surviving animals from the Aquarium of the Americas, only to find
themselves in the path of Hurricane Rita.
“At the Houston Zoo, geese, ducks and chickens roomed
together in one of the zoo’s men’s rooms. Turkeys weathered the
hurricane in a women’s rest room. Maned wolves and anteaters shacked
up with the tenants of the Siberian tiger section,” zoo spokesperson
Brian Hill told Hillel Italie of Associated Press.
Moody Gardens “lost 13 fish, an endangered snake known as a
Wagler’s viper and a South American bird called a piping guan” to
Rita, the Houston Chronicle reported. But “A Katrina refugee, an
endangered green sea turtle named King Midas, rode out Rita without
The Hattiesburg Zoo, closed by Hurricane Katrina, reopened
on September 27 with only half as many trees as before and many
damaged exhibits–but the only animals lost, zoo director Lori
Banchero said, were fish.
The Exotic Cat Refuge in Beaumont, Texas, housing 18 exotic
cats, a monkey, two bears, and two wolves, plus about 100
domestic cats displaced by Katrina, was “in shambles” after Rita,
reported Ted Oberg of KTRK-TV. Downed trees damaged many cages, the
pumps failed, and a ton of stored meat for the big cats spoiled,
founder Monique Woodward told Oberg.
“I’m afraid we’re probably going to have to kill them,” said
Woodward’s daughter Deb Horner.