Fort Worth Zoo assisting Louisiana Purchase Gardens & Zoo caught in the path of Hurricane Laura
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Fort Worth Zoo assisting Louisiana Purchase Gardens & Zoo caught in the path of Hurricane Laura

On Friday, Fort Worth Zoo Executive Director Michael Fouraker will lead a team of employees to the Louisiana Purchase Gardens & Zoo in Monroe, LA, one of the animal facilities affected by Hurricane Laura. The Zoo will transport a UTV, trailers, chainsaws and other equipment, and will lend their expertise to help the local team assess the damage and begin cleanup efforts.

“The facility sustained significant damage, and we are going to help remove downed trees and debris, as well as repair some facilities,” said Fouraker. “We are taking a UTV, in addition to trucks and trailers, chainsaws and tools. We have an additional team on standby to come and help once damage is assessed.”

This is a coordinated effort of the Zoological Disaster Response, Rescue and Recovery (ZDR3) team, which is comprised of several zoos and wildlife facilities in Texas and surrounding states, headquartered at the Fort Worth Zoo. ZDR3 was created as a response to the overwhelming need of disaster support among animal facilities following Hurricane Harvey in 2017. It was clear that coordinated communication and rescue and recovery efforts were needed ahead of future natural disasters.

“The function of ZDR3 is to funnel all disaster relief calls for help to one central command center. The command center will then coordinate with participating institutions the relief needs of the damaged facility,” said Fouraker. “This coordinated effort will assist the facility-in-need with manpower, equipment, and additional resources as needed.”

The response team will assess damage and needs before determining if additional help may be required, but the Fort Worth Zoo is ready and able to lend a hand to the Louisiana Purchase Gardens & Zoo. In a year that has brought much turmoil to zoos, aquariums and wildlife facilities across the world, the Zoo is pleased to be able to help its partners recover from this disaster.

The nationally acclaimed Fort Worth Zoo has been voted the No. 1 zoo in North America by USA Today, the Best Zoo in Texas by Yahoo Travel, the No. 5 zoo in the nation by USA Travel Guide, the No. 1 family attraction in the DFW Metroplex by Zagat survey and a Top 10 Zoo or Aquarium by FamilyFun magazine. Home to more than 7,000 animals, the Zoo is in the second of a four-phase, $100-million master plan. The first phase, African Savanna, opened in April 2018. The second, Elephant Springs, will open in 2021. The institution’s focus on education and conservation is second to none, enhancing the lives of more than one million visitors a year.