Monday, June 27, 2011

Saved from the zoo -- sort of

Q. For an animal, what could be worse than being in a zoo?

A. Being in a zoo likely to be flooded by a rising river threatening the whole town.

As the Souris River (a.k.a. “the Mouse”) rose to historic levels and threatened Minot, North Dakota, people moved the zoo animals -- every one of them – to higher ground, area farms or other zoos. The Roosevelt Park Zoo had been flooded in 1969, but this time there was enough advance warning to make better plans for its animal inhabitants.

Most of the 100-plus animals were evacuated to an old furniture warehouse “high above the valley floor,” according to Inside, the warehouse is divided in dozens of pens – chain link, wire mesh or metal-walled -- suitable for the refugees, who may be there for months to come.

Giraffes reportedly had to be persuaded to enter a trailer that accommodated them for the trip to “the north zoo,” and other animals fought being transported. One staffer remarked on “the terror in their eyes.”

Once resettled, the camels turned mischievous, moving light switches with their tongues and trying to escape. A lamb was named “Noah,” after the first know rescuer of animals. Occasionally allowed to roam free around the warehouse, he quickly learned to avoid the caged bobcats’ unfriendly swipes.

And so the zoo animals are riding out the flood safely if not happily.

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