Zoo Atlanta will close early on Sat., May 25 for Brew at the Zoo. Gates will close at 1:30 p.m. and grounds will close at 3 p.m. 

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Weathering Irma with our feathered friends

With the recent bad weather we had from Irma, a lot of people have asked us how we prepared and how we kept the animals safe. In the Bird Department, our preparations began several days before the weather was expected to hit. First, we addressed the birds based on how comfortable we felt about them weathering the storm. For example, we were much more concerned about smaller birds like the taveta golden weavers, which will get wet very fast. We knew we would move the milky eagle owls to protect from a chance of a tree coming down on their habitat. There was a group of about 20 birds in The Living Treehouse who we felt could handle the storm well and would instinctively use built-in cover or the eaves of those spaces to stay protected. The scarlet ibis just hunkered down under some bushes. Their innate ability to know what to do was very clear. Once we had a plan, we secured all of the windows and prepped our indoor areas for our birds. Then the fun of rounding up birds began.

Two days before the storm, we started “funneling” birds into their indoor areas, and the vast majority were inside in 48 hours. Our larger birds, like the blue cranes, and our reliable shifters, like the southern ground hornbills, we kept inside the day before as well. About eight birds, including the pied imperial pigeons in this photo had to be caught by hand and brought in. Having basically all of our birds inside meant doing some shuffling to ensure that everybody was comfortable and making sure that any species that might not get along in a more confined space weren’t housed together. On the day of the storm, keepers did basic husbandry and checked on the birds several times throughout the day to make sure everything went smoothly.

We were exceptionally lucky that the storm was less than anticipated here in Atlanta, and our birds weathered the storm safely and none of our habitats sustained any real damage. After the storm we really only had to pick up all of the debris in the habitats, and the birds were free to go out again! We were so fortunate and send our sympathies to those in hurricane-ravaged states right now; we can’t imagine what they must be going through.
Alexa Jansen
Keeper I, Birds

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