One of the nation’s most popular zoos is closed Tuesday after being struck by softball-sized hail on Monday afternoon. The storm hit the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo in Colorado Springs, Colorado, provoking a mad dash to shelter by both zoo guests and animals. The storm did a number on an estimated 400 cars but the worst damage took place inside. Fourteen people were injured in the storm, with three zoo employees and two guests being transported to a local hospital for treatment.
The storm also took its toll on the animals, killing a four-year-old Muscovy duck named Daisy and a 13-year-old Cape vulture named Motswari. An additional 16 animals, including a Rocky Mountain goat, sustained injuries and are being treated by zoo staffers. According to a press release issued by the facility, “All of the zoo’s animals have permanent shelter, but just as there were humans injured while trying to get to shelter, some animals were injured as well.”
One meercat is still missing, but all other animals have been accounted for. “There’s no chance that it escaped, but there are so many underground tunnels in its exhibit,” said marketing director Jenny Koch to the Denver Post. “There’s no way to know if it’s scared or hiding or if something happened and it passed away.”
About 3,500 guests were at the zoo at the time of the storm, with the majority being safely evacuated to a nearby high school. Multiple structures on the property were also affected, though the damage is still being assessed and final details on when the zoo will reopen have yet to be determined. The facility hopes to reopen later this week.
H/T: The Denver Post