What happens to Maymont’s animals during storms like Sandy?

October 29, 2012 at 4:20 pm 1 comment

We started preparing for the possibility of a major storm last Tuesday. We discussed plans with senior staff and checked supplies like batteries and operation of generators. Our contract veterinarian, Dr. Kelly Gottschalk, is on call in case of emergency.

Now that the storm is fast approaching, our animal keepers are making final preparations to keep all of our furry and feathered friends safe during the high winds and rain. The cows have been moved into the barn and the birds of prey to the NatureCenter. The greatest concern for the birds is the wind since it can push the light-weight animals off their perches. The bears, bobcat, fox and horses have shelter against the rain. The bison and white-tail deer are in their natural element, so there are no extra precautions taken for their safety. Generators are ready to run the aquariums at the NatureCenter in case of power outages.

Our animal keepers do not stay overnight on the property, but public safety is onsite at all times. Public safety officers stay in contact with the animal keepers regarding any issues such as damage to fences or downed trees in habitats. Several of our animal keepers live within walking distance, so if there is a major snow storm or other weather conditions when travel by car isn’t safe but travel by foot is OK, they sometimes walk in to check on the animals.

Animals have been given extra food and water today, but most of them could survive for two to three days without food, especially the birds. If conditions are unsafe for the animal care staff to travel at all tomorrow, we can be comforted by the fact that the animals are safe, secure and comfortable until the storm has passed.

Maymont’s animals are not just residents of Maymont; they are integral members of our Environmental Education team. Thanks to them, nearly 20,000 area school children encounter nature up close and personal in our school programs each year, and guests of all ages can observe and learn from them every day. We depend on people like you to help feed and care for them at a cost of $500,000 a year.

In November, Maymont is offering some special options to support and celebrate the animals. You can join our “Give Thanks to the Animals” wall in the NatureCenter, adopt an animal for $25 or more, or participate in our Give Thanks program on November 17 to make treats for Maymont’s animals and your own backyard wildlife. Click here to learn more.



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Buz Bireline, Director of Habitats & the Nature Center at Maymont

Buz Bireline

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