Zoo begins to secure animals from Hurricane Florence …Large Birds, Flamingos at Risk…”This One Really Scares Me” Nat’l Hurricane Center Director



September 11, 2018 07:38 PM


Riverbanks Zoo began securing its more than 2,000 animals from Hurricane Florence on Tuesday, beginning with the birds.

“We started moving some of our birds indoors and we will continue (Wednesday) and Thursday,” said zoo spokeswoman Susan O’Cain. “All of our animals will be in indoor spaces by the time Florence reaches land.”

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.


By Tracy Glantz

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.

The bigger birds, like the zoo’s flock of Flamingos, will be moved indoors Thursday morning. Florence is expected to reach landfall Thursday night or Friday.

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.”



“This one really scares me,” National Hurricane Center Director Ken Graham said.

Federal officials begged residents to put together emergency kits and have a plan on where to go.

“This storm is going to knock out power days into weeks. It’s going to destroy infrastructure. It’s going to destroy homes,” said Jeff Byard, an official at the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

Coastal residents fleeing a potentially devastating blow from Hurricane Florence encountered empty gasoline pumps and depleted store shelves as the monster storm neared the Carolina coast with 140 mph winds and drenching rain that could last for days.

While some said they planned to stay put despite hurricane watches and warnings that include the homes of more than 5.4 million people on the East Coast, many weren’t taking any chances.

Steady streams of vehicles full of people and belongings flowed inland Tuesday as Gov. Roy Cooper tried to convince everyone on North Carolina’s coast to flee.

“The waves and the wind this storm may bring is nothing like you’ve ever seen. Even if you’ve ridden out storms before, this one is different. Don’t bet your life on riding out a monster,” he said.


Forecasters said hurricane-force winds will be blowing ashore early Friday as Florence stalls along the coast before dumping a torrential 1 to 2½ feet of rain. Flooding well inland could wreak environmental havoc by washing over industrial waste sites and hog farms.

Up to a foot of rain is now predicted places in the southern Appalachian mountains as projections shifted the storm’s eventual path southward.

“This rainfall would produce catastrophic flash flooding and significant river flooding,” forecasters said Wednesday.

President Donald Trump declared states of emergency for North and South Carolina and Virginia, opening the way for federal aid. He said the federal government is “absolutely, totally prepared” for Florence.

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