Zoo Miami prepares to reopen; South Florida Wildlife Center cares for injured animals

MIAMI (WSVN) - Animals at Zoo Miami returned to the habitats they are accustomed to, Friday, after being pent up indoors to wait out the approach of Hurricane Matthew. Meanwhile, the South Florida Wildlife Center began to see the storm’s effect on local wildlife.

Zoo Miami’s animals had been cooped up indoors during Hurricane Matthew and were finally released outdoors, Friday, before the zoo reopens on Saturday. Zoo Miami’s Ron Magill explained that the sooner animals can get back to normal routines, the better.

“The key is to get animals back out into the exhibit as soon as possible, get that routine established again. That removes the stress of the animals, gives us an ability to close the areas that they’ve been enclosed in because they need some cleaning now,” Magill said.

Flamingos and other birds are especially susceptible to storms, according to Magill.

“Birds, because they are so light, they are so susceptible to the strong winds. They tend to be the animals we’re most concerned about that they cannot be protected,” Magill said.

At the SFWC, 39 injured or displaced animals have already been brought in. One white ibis that was brought in was unable to walk.

“It might have a spinal injury caused by trauma from the wind, maybe flying into something. We’ll know when we get the X-rays done,” Dr. Renata Schneider said.

Matthew did no major damage to the center’s outside habitats, and employees were busy taking down shutters Friday. The center’s staff and volunteers helped house 300 animals that were evacuated, but they’re already busy with the influx of new animals found injured.

“His beak was broken a little, so I’m guessing that’s why he flew into something, and his wing was a little crooked, so I just decided to bring him in,” Laura Trejos said.

Dr. Renata Schneider said, after the storm, the center sees an increase in the number of babies brought in.

“This is our wildlife triage area, which is a little bit of chaos at the moment,” Schneider said.

The center’s staff gave fluids and warm shelter to a number of possums found without their mother.


“They came in quite cold. I don’t know at what point they lost their mother, but certainly, at this age, they would normally still be in their mother’s pouch and probably something happened to their mom last night,” Schneider said.

An older possum arrived with a fractured skull.

“He had a lot of blood coming out of his ear and on different parts of his body,” Schneider said.

A warbler bird brought to the shelter was expected to be fine.

“A lot of times they’re just stunned, and with a little bit of rest we’re able to release them within the same day or 24 hours,” Schneider said.

The center urged people to only bring them animals that are sick or injured. If an animal simply looks out of place, people are advised to leave them be.

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