SAFETY

How does the Hogle Zoo move animals during a fire

Oct 28, 2022, 4:00 PM | Updated: Nov 21, 2022, 1:15 pm
How does the Utah Hogle Zoo transport animals during a fire?...
Salt Lake City Fire Department, station ten, helped make the drill more realistic for staff. (Utah's Hogle Zoo)
(Utah's Hogle Zoo)

SALT LAKE CITY — Utah’s Hogle Zoo held a fire drill on Oct.26 while the zoo remained open. In a Twitter post, the zoo said they hold these drills periodically in case a real fire occurs with visitors. 

Salt Lake City Fire Department, station ten, helped make the drill more realistic for staff. The department carried out a “victim” and performed first-aid during the drill. 

Following the drill, the zoo team and fire department debriefed on what went well. Also, they discussed what could be improved for a real-life situation. 

Hogle Zoo moving animals during a fire

Now, you’re probably thinking “how in the world do you move a big animal, like an elephant, during a fire?”

Jeffrey Landry, Zoological Risk Manager has the answer. 

For larger animals, Landry said a shelter-in-place may potentially occur or crating of the animals. For example, if a fire happened at the elephant building, sprinkler systems would go off, a remote would open the doors to the enclosure, and the elephants would shelter in place at the working yard, allowing a safe distance from the building. 

Landry said the same is true for other enclosures of big animals such as rhinos, a remote can open all doors to the enclosure, making for an easy exit plan to keep the animals safe. 

“I’ve been here twenty-five years and we’ve never had one,” Landry said when asked if the zoo has experienced an enclosure fire. Furthermore, he said two types of fire drills are run periodically to prepare for such a fire. In addition to a structure fire, the zoo prepares for wildfires as well. 

“A little bit earlier in the year we actually prepared for a wildland fire. Hogle Zoo is right at the mouth of the immigration canyon, it’s entirely possible.” Jeffrey Landry said. “We have a lot of natural disaster protocols in place, the staff knows to look for embers…we have plans for every single building on how either harden it or move the animals out.” 

Landry also stressed that as important as the animals’ safety is, visitor safety is equally as important and the two drills the zoos teams practice help keep both safe. 

Related: Utah’s Hogle Zoo expanding east side with an all-Utah species exhibit

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How does the Hogle Zoo move animals during a fire