Hurricane Preparations at the Zoo

As you have heard, there’s a major storm brewing in the Atlantic Ocean with the potential to impact the Hampton Roads area. While thousands of families up and down the east coast are preparing for the hurricane, the Virginia Zoo is also making plans to prepare for the impending inclement weather.

As soon as management and staff become aware of a severe storm, we begin making preparations about 72 hours before the weather is determined to hit the area. Staff preps the grounds by securing loose items such as trashcans, signs, etc. The condition of items on Zoo grounds, such as animal enrichment, is assessed to see how they will fare in the weather.

Severe weather for the Zoo typically consists of heavy rain, which can cause flooding, and high winds from tornadoes, or more prominently, hurricanes. The Zoo’s grounds have several rain gardens and areas for water to drain in the event of flooding on Zoo grounds. The only area that typically floods is the driveway into the Zoo. We have only ever had minor storm damage, nothing of which has affected animals, staff or the ability of the Zoo to perform its daily operations.

All of the animals are brought indoors to help keep them safe. Many of the Zoo’s animals are trained to move voluntarily between inside and outside enclosures and have no issue transferring indoors. Animals, such as birds, that primarily live in their outside exhibits are also brought into higher indoor exhibits which help shelter them from the storm and any damage that may happen to their outside exhibit. Zoo Keepers, Veterinary and Maintenance staff are on grounds daily, even when the Zoo is closed, to ensure that the animals are well taken care of. During severe weather, animal care staff may stay at the Zoo to feed and monitor the animals and make sure they are safe in their sheltered enclosures.

For guests’ safety, the Zoo will notify the public via social media if a decision has been made to close or alter our normal operations. Be sure to check our Facebook page, and subscribe to push notifications on the Virginia Zoo App for any updates on closings or delays in the upcoming days. Stay safe in the storm, Zoo fans!