— Realistic full-scale drill will require 2 p.m. closure on Thursday, Nov. 9, 2017 —
November 8, 2017, Colorado Springs, CO – Although many people in the Pikes Peak region consider fire danger a thing of the past when the temperatures begin to drop, there is actually still a high risk for wildland fires during the fall and winter months. Because of this, Cheyenne Mountain Zoo plans to run a realistic, full-scale wildland fire safety drill on Thursday, November 9, 2017. The Zoo will close to guests at 2 p.m., with the last admission at 1 p.m.
The Zoo will also conduct an overnight power-outage drill to test their cold-weather emergency preparedness on Thursday night. This may result in temporary website outage from Thursday evening through around noon on Friday.
“Monthly safety drills are a requirement of the accreditation we receive from the Association of Zoos and Aquariums, “ said Bob Chastain, president and CEO of Cheyenne Mountain Zoo. “While we run a wildland fire drill every year to ensure we have a workable plan, we are going all out this year to ensure maximum realistic circumstances and staging. In order to accomplish that, we also have to simulate the fact that guests would not be in the Zoo if danger was eminent.”
The Zoo’s fire plan was developed in conjunction with local fire departments and is regularly reviewed and updated as needed. Through this partnership, the Zoo and local fire experts have identified several safe zones on Zoo grounds for animals. These safe zones are buildings made of fire-resistant materials (concrete block, metal, etc.) that contain fire suppression systems and have been fire-mitigated. In the case of a fire emergency, animals would be moved to these locations and a team of trained Zoo personnel would be stationed on-site to care for the animals.
The Zoo’s fire plan takes into account that moving some animals could be more dangerous and stressful on them than keeping them as safe as possible in place. It could also be logistically impossible to move some species on short notice. (For example, there are less than a handful of companies in the U.S. that can transport giraffes.) Many of the exhibits have defensible spaces that contain sprinkler systems and are buffered by sidewalks, roads, dirt fields and ponds, and the safest decision would be to keep them where they are.
In the case of a fire emergency, the Zoo would also use many of the same techniques the fire department would use to prepare neighborhoods before the fire would reach Zoo grounds – foam, wet lines, dry lines, removal of flammables and preparation of the entrance and egress for fire personnel.
About Cheyenne Mountain Zoo
The Cheyenne Mountain Zoological Society was founded in 1926. Today, Cheyenne Mountain Zoo, America’s ONLY mountain zoo, offers comprehensive education programs, exciting conservation efforts and truly fantastic animal experiences. It is Cheyenne Mountain Zoo’s hope that guests fall in love with animals and nature, and take action to protect them. Of the 233 zoos and aquariums accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA), Cheyenne Mountain Zoo is one of just ten operating without tax support. Cheyenne Mountain Zoo depends on admissions, membership dues and donations for funding.