Preparing for a major hurricane is even more complicated when you have more than 3,000 wild animals in your care.
Zoo Miami, also known as the Miami-Dade Zoological Park and Gardens, has spent the past few days making sure its facilities are ready for the wrath of Hurricane Irma, which is now expected to make landfall in Florida on Sunday.
There are several reasons why it doesn’t make sense to evacuate thousands of animals from the zoo, communications director Ron Magill told NPR this week. For one thing, transporting the animals can cause stress so great that it could kill them. Plus, the zoo wrote on Facebook, hurricanes’ paths can change so quickly that evacuating the animals could wind up putting them in more danger.
Magill told the Miami Herald that the zoo learned a lot of lessons after weathering Hurricane Andrew 25 years ago. That was the first time the zoo herded a flock of flamingos into a bathroom, resulting in an iconic, widely circulated photo. Flamingos rode out the storm in bathrooms during Hurricanes Georges and Floyd, too.
This time around, the flamingos, like many of the zoo’s residents, will be kept inside concrete enclosures that Magill told NPR are strong enough to withstand “the strength of a major hurricane.”
Take a look at some of the photos of the zoo readying animals for the storm: