Riverbanks Zoo began securing its more than 2,000 animals from Hurricane Florence on Tuesday, beginning with the birds.
“All of our animals will be in indoor spaces by the time Florence reaches land,” said zoo spokeswoman Susan O’Cain.
Riverbanks Zoo and Garden is home to nearly 350 species of animals from around the world, from elephants, giraffes, gorillas and big cats to endangered birds and mammals.
More than 40 flamingos were moved to an indoor shelter on Thursday. The zoo will be closed Friday to Sunday.
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Most of the bigger animals, like the elephants, big cats and gorillas, already have indoor shelters. So they will be moved inside when the skies start to darken, O’Cain said.
But about half of the 300 birds at the zoo are in large, outdoor cage-like habitats along the walkway.
“Several of our outdoor exhibits are not not made to withstand hurricane winds,” O’Cain said.
O’Cain added that a large percentage of the 2,000 animals are fish, snakes and other small critters.
“And they’re housed in our aquarium and reptile habitat,” she said.
The zoo begins planning for hurricane season in May, O’Cain said.
“To make sure our grounds are secure. That we have necessary supplies,” she said. “We make sure generators are in working order. That we have enough food and water.”