“It just made us sleep better,” Barkowski said. “No one was worried about them where they were, they weren’t in stress, but if one crazy thing happened we wouldn’t have to worry about the tortoises.”
Similar special accommodations were made for the zoo’s Trumpeter swans. Barkowski said the birds would have been able to survive the stormy weather because they are from the northern part of the United States.
“Our weather here is nothing to them, but because our ponds froze over, we moved them inside so they had a water source to swim in,” he said.
As part of its certification process, the zoo has to have protocols in place to address all kinds of emergencies, including freezing temperatures and power outages, Barkowski said. This week, that took the form of ensuring that all of the animals that had to be housed indoors were, and that additional staff was on site to monitor them. The zoo is staffed 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year.
“We have made a lot of really great improvements as TZMI (Tulsa Zoo Management Inc.) over the last 10 years thanks to the taxpayer support and our public funding packages, and through our operating agreement (with the city), so we were really in good shape to kind of deal with this issue,” said Lindsay Hutchison, president and CEO of Tulsa Zoo. “And then the city did step up and were good partners and provided some extra generators in the instance that we maybe did lose power.”