San Antonio Zoo sends disaster response team to help with Hurricane Ian recovery

SAN ANTONIO – Crews with the San Antonio Zoo geared up and headed out to lend a helping hand in Florida as part of its zoological disaster response, rescue, and recovery, in the aftermath of Hurricane Ian.

“We want to take some time out and be able to offer some assistance. There will be other institutions from other parts of the United States that’ll be responding as well and so, we’ll basically kind of hand off the baton, if you will, at that point when some of those other institutions and facilities start showing up,” said Adam Malstaff, Director of Facilities, San Antonio Zoo.

The crews will first travel roughly ten hours to Mobile, Alabama.

“So, we basically been spending the last couple of days just trying to get together as much material as we can. It’s a little further trip than the last time… We just wanted to make sure that we packed as efficiently as possible but wanted to make sure we had as much as we could and the things we needed were definitely focusing on things like water and fuel,” said Malstaff.

The hurricane support unit will travel to one of the many areas destroyed by Hurricane Ian—Punta Gorda, Florida. Crews said they plan to respond to the needs of the regions zoo’s, aquariums, and other facilities housing non-domestic animals.

“Once we get there, our goal is going to be just to start working on clearing brush and getting the debris and stuff, getting the facility kind of opened up,” said Malstaff.

Their work will also consist of fence repairs and electrical welding.

Malstaff said the San Antonio Zoo first sent its support units to assist Houston’s downtown aquarium and Texas Zoo in Victoria during Hurricane Harvey.

“Once we did that, the zoo industry as a whole kind of recognized the need for recovery and responses because there’s been other situations with other zoos and facilities around the United States,” said Malstaff.

The San Antonio Zoo said they are now one the largest and most experienced deployment units, serving most recently in Louisiana following Hurricane Laura, the category four hurricane in 2020.

“We were fortunate to help out there, and we really kind of learned a lot from that experience as well and we just continue to grow. So, we’re going as the San Antonio Zoo, but we’re also going as a representative with the zoo’s ZDR3, which is the Zoo Disaster Response Team,” said Malstaff.

Crews are expected to return next Saturday.

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