COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. - It's a drill done every year to make sure Cheyenne Mountain Zoo staff are prepared to move hundreds of animals in case of an approaching wildfire.
The zoo closed it's doors early to the public evacuating the people as part of the drill. The scenario: a thousand acre fire southwest of the zoo is making it's way, giving staff two to three hours to get everything done.
Bob Chastain, President and CEO of Cheyenne Zoo is also the incident commander. He says if a wildfire were to break out all 750 animals, would be placed into fire resistant buildings on site. Chastain says, "we have four at the bottom of the zoo that are easily protected that are made out of fire proof materials."
Exhibits for large animals like giraffes and elephants are already fire proof, making it easier on staff to focus on moving the other smaller animals.
The zoo has 100 full time staff and on any given day has 60 workers. During a wildfire, each staff member has a specific animal or exhibit to help move.
For the drill, Chastain says smaller animals that can be caught by hand will be put into a crates. To practice moving bigger animals that can not be caught by hand, workers have to shoot a practice dart into a dummy animal, wait a certain amount of time for the animal to fall asleep and then move it into a crate.