Calgary, AB, Canada (June 25, 2013) — Rising levels on the Bow River flooded the Calgary Zoo over the weekend. The following status was posted by the Zoo on its facebook page on Sunday, June 23. All photos courtesy the Calgary Zoo.
Today as the water receded, elephants and giraffes were able to be outside enjoying the sun albeit on soggy ground. However, animal care staff sadly confirmed that in spite of their best efforts to corral our free-roaming peacocks on Thursday night, at least one bird has not survived the flood. While trying to round them up, some birds flew up to rooftops and trees and simply couldn’t be corralled. A necropsy will be performed to confirm the bird’s cause of death. As well, Dr. Jake Veasey, director of animal care, conservation and research, who has been at the zoo 24/7 since Thursday, advised that the tilapia in the hippo pool and the piranha in South America have not survived due to the sustained lack of power to the island to maintain water quality and appropriate temperatures for these tropical fish. In spite of the loss of the fish and a peacock, we are still counting our blessings that in the face of this natural disaster there have not been greater losses.
Zoo President Dr. Clément Lanthier issued the following special message for volunteers and staff assessing the situation on Saturday:
As I write these words, much of your Calgary Zoo sits covered in water. To survey the island in a kayak this afternoon [Friday] was a surreal experience, one I thought I’d never have and hope never to repeat.
The Administration building, SCOW, ENMAX Conservatory and Kitamba Cafe all sit in several feet of water as they sit in some of the lowest areas on the island. Despite the damage to our infrastructure, I am very proud to report that our animals are secure and safe. For this, we must applaud the remarkable effort by so many dedicated employees, particularly those in Animal Care and Facilities, who worked together late into Thursday night to move as many animals as possible to higher ground within the zoo and to our Animal Health Centre.
Despite the many media reports, our big cats have not moved to the courthouse! With the exception of two pot-bellied pigs moved to the City’s Animal Shelter and two zebras moved to the ranch, all our animals remain at the zoo. We are closely monitoring those animals that remain on the island — I checked in on the camels, hippos, giraffes, elephants and gorillas myself today.
I know many employees want to come down to help but it simply isn’t safe at this time. Only essential Animal Care staff remains onsite to care for our animals. From my tour today it is clear there is much work ahead. You can be sure that once the water has receded, you’ll be hearing from your supervisor — we will need the help of every employee and every volunteer.
It has also been inspiring to see the outpouring of encouragement and offers of support from people and organizations across our community and nation as well as from colleagues in the United States and overseas. I have no doubt we will need a lot of help to restore our zoo, so we are grateful that so many friends care and are ready to step up.
The Calgary Zoo will remain closed for the next two weeks. We are developing a plan to resume operations and begin the restoration. Employees can expect to hear directly from supervisors about how you can help, and everyone should continue to watch our Facebook and website for additional updates.
Please take care of yourself and your family. I look forward to working with you to rebuild our wonderful zoo.
Dr. Clément Lanthier is President & CEO of the Calgary Zoo