Friday, April 20 , 2018, 8:00 am | Fair 50º

 
 
 
 

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Santa Barbara Zoo Prepared to Evacuate Animals to Los Angeles Zoo If Necessary

Facility reopened Wednesday after a three-day closure, and has trucks waiting in case the Thomas Fire burns into Santa Barbara

The Santa Barbara Zoo’s animals, including a giant anteater and her pup, have been kept inside during a closure due to the Thomas Fire. Click to view larger
The Santa Barbara Zoo’s animals, including a giant anteater and her pup, have been kept inside during a closure due to the Thomas Fire.  (Santa Barbara Zoo photo)

The Santa Barbara Zoo is prepared to transport its animals to the Los Angeles Zoo if the Thomas Fire were to roar down into Santa Barbara.

The growing fire is burning in the foothills above Carpinteria, but the Santa Barbara Zoo closed for three days due to the large smoke cloud and unhealthy air quality.

It reopened Wednesday and offered free admission, parking and indoor activities after the closure. 

The gorillas, big cats, condors and hundreds of animals were living inside their night quarters Sunday through Tuesday, while giraffes had access to their beachfront yard. 

Zookeepers have been taking part in enrichment activities with the animals, playing games and giving them a variety of toys and treats.

Zoo officials, however, are ready to roll if necessary.

“We have a number of large trucks in the parking lot and we have received offers of assistance from the U.S Fish and Wildlife Service and Santa Barbara Animal Control,” said Dean Noble, marketing director for the zoo.

Noble said staff hasn’t seen any health impacts on any of the animals.

“We have a very talented team of zookeepers,” Noble said. “It is easy for them to see when an animal is being agitated. We haven't seen anything thus far that indicates an animal is in distress or not faring well.”

He said animals do a good job of taking care of themselves.

“Animals are generally very intelligent and good at looking after their own welfare,” Noble said.

Zoo staff members have been making closure decisions on a day-by-day basis.

Noble said as far as he knew, this is the first time the zoo has unexpectedly been closed.

He added that staff will have a variety of indoor activities available when the zoo reopens. 

Noble said people who want to support the zoo should consider buying a family membership for themselves or donate one to a loved one.

Since the zoo staff members have been using a lot more toys and treats while animals are kept inside, the zoo will be asking the public for donations of cardboard boxes, paper towel rolls, and gently used/new towels, which they use for animal enrichment. 

There will be a drop-off bin available at the front gate for people who want to donate items, according to zoo staff.

Noozhawk staff writer Joshua Molina can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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