Animals sheltered in zoo director’s home to escape fire

Posted by Elise Kirsten on 8 January 2020

Mogo Wildlife Park, a small privately-owned zoo on the south coast of New South Wales, Australia, houses the country’s largest collection of primates and exotic animals including zebra, white rhino and giraffes.

As the raging wildfires that have been devastating the nation closed in and orders to evacuate the town of Mogo were given on New Year’s Eve, zoo director Chad Staples and his staff stayed behind and began wetting as much of the zoo area as they could.

In an interview with Refilwe Moloto on Cape Talk Radio on Wednesday 8 January, Staples explained how large animals, ‘rhinos, giraffes, zebra were given access to every single paddock we have, in that section of the park, so they could essentially choose where they felt safest.’

The dangerous, large animals like lions, tigers, gorillas and orangutans were all moved into their night shelters and fed and watered to keep things as normal as possible for them.

The smaller animals like red pandas (who’s enclosure was near some smouldering trees), marmosets and other monkeys were taken to Chad’s house on the property, ‘which we were able to defend a bit better,’ said Chad.

‘It was an amazing effort by an amazing group of people that just put everything on the line to help protect them.’

Speaking to the Australian Broadcasting Corp right after the incident, he said ‘Right now, in my house, there’s animals of all descriptions in all the different rooms so that they’re safe and protected,’

‘No one is hurt, not a single animal,’ said Staples.

All of the zoo’s 200 animals were saved.

According to Staples, a Gofundme campaign has been set up so that Mogo Wildlife Park can build a bigger wildlife hospital to care for wildlife that comes in as a result of the tragic fires, as the zoo’s staff have the skillset needed to care for wild creatures.


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Image: Chad Staples/ @zookeeper_chad

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