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Cheyenne Mountain Zoo wildfire evacuation plan in place

Cheyenne Mountain Zoo wildfire evacuation plan in place

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. - As summer nears, the threat of wildfires becomes all the more real. Many, hopefully, have a fire evacuation plan in place, and the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo - is no exception.

While the animals won't be going on an ark two-by-two, Cheyenne Mountain Zoo President and CEO - Bob Chastain, says the zoo does have an evacuation plan in place - if a fire were to quickly strike. 

Chastain explained it's nearly impossible to move elephants and other wild animals, as there are only a limited number of people who are able to ship them. So, the animals stay on zoo property. Colorado Springs and Broadmoor fire departments have designated four buildings, made out of brick and metal, as "shelters". The structures are also equipped with inside and outside sprinklers.

Moving the animals is no easy feat. "In this case (it is done by) hand-injecting all of our animals and making them go to sleep. Then moving them into crates and then into other buildings," explained Chastain.

In order to make sure everything runs smoothly if a fire were to happen, employees practice two fire drills a year. Chastain said that within two hours most of the animals are sheltered.  During an evacuation a small team of staff would stay at the zoo to care for the animals.

The zoo has also improved their evacuation plan for visitors. Chastain said they've added multiple routes to get out of the parking lot.

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