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Cameron Park Zoo employees work around the clock to keep animals safe amid artic blast

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Posted at 7:47 PM, Feb 17, 2021
and last updated 2021-02-17 20:47:13-05

WACO, TX — With over 1,700 animals from all over the world, every animal at Cameron Park Zoo needs a certain habitat to survive.

Employees have been doing whatever it takes to make sure the animals stay warm.

On Saturday, the zoo began making preparations for the arctic blast that was heading towards Central Texas. With hundreds of animals sensitive to arctic temperatures, employees began remaking habitats in buildings around the zoo, including in bathrooms.

“We had to catch easily over 200 birds from outdoor aviaries, so it was a huge task, and we put them everywhere we possibly could. Up in my office, we’ve got pelicans, we’ve got gulls, we’ve got another meerkat hanging out in another bathroom,” explained Cameron Park Zoo Animal Care Manager of Birds and Small Mammals Christopher Geerts.

The zoo went 24 hours without power and has had several blackouts since then. Thankfully with help from the community, the zoo was able to receive backup heaters and generators.

“I don’t think that I have stopped worrying because the power is on right now, but like so many in our community, how long is it going to stay on? Are we going to be able to sustain? But again we have had so many donations of propane tanks," said Cameron Park Zoo General Curator, Manda Butler.

“A lot of our primates, as soon as we put those heaters on, they were all huddled together trying to stay warm," said Katrinna Lee, the Cameron Park Zoo's Animal Care Supervisor for Mammals. "It was super cute to see as well.”

Zoo keepers put the animals before themselves, sleeping at the zoo to make sure all the animals stayed safe and warm during the ice storms.

“They are good and warm and we have power. So they are getting really warm right now,” said Lee.

“It’s definitely a band of brothers. We are all here. We are all supporting these animals," said Butler. "They don’t say I cant. They don’t say I am tired. They just work."

After the cold air moves out of Central Texas, the zoo will begin transitioning the animals to their exhibits once power service is steadier.