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South Florida Animal Parks Ready for Storm

Safety measures in place at local attractions if storm comes this way

Thursday, Aug 23, 2012  |  Updated 7:57 AM EDT
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Jungle Island is one of South Florida's famed tourist attractions.

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Officials at South Florida animal attractions said Wednesday that if Tropical Storm Isaac nears the area early next week, as its current track suggests, they'll be ready.

Jungle Island spokeswoman Ashley Serrate said officials at the Miami park would be meeting later Wednesday to discuss what steps would be taken in the event Isaac comes near.

Serrate said that if that scenario is likely, workers would begin taking precautions, picking up loose items on the grounds and discuss putting the animals away.

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Every animal has a concrete or indoor structure that is weatherproof that they can stay in in the event of a tropical storm or hurricane, Serrate said.

Zoo Miami also has enclosures on their grounds to store animals, but the park won't start preparing until there's a hurricane watch issued for the area, spokesman Ron Magill said.

"When there's a hurricane watch, then we go into action," Magill said.

In addition to putting away the animals, workers would make sure all the park's vehicles have gas, its kitchens are full and its backup generators are operating, Magill said.

At Palm Beach County's Lion Country Safari, officials were already keeping an eye on the storm Wednesday afternoon.

"We'll continue to watch it, we'll be monitoring everything closely," Public Relations and Marketing Director Jennifer Berthiaume said. "Safety is of course our top priority."

Berthiaume said that the park's lions, rhinoceros and chimps would be quickly moved indoors into their night houses, which are "very secure." Smaller animals, including birds and reptiles, would also be moved indoors.

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For extra safety, the park is surrounded by two fences and a canal. In the event a storm hits, workers would stay at the park throughout the storm to make sure nothing happens and that the fences are secure.

"We do plan for hurricanes year round, we have all our supplies in place," Berthiaume said.

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