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Zoo to welcome animals from Calgary

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July 24 -- Two cotton-top tamarins will take refuge in Assiniboine Park Zoo from Calgary Zoo following last month's flood.
(SUPPLIED PHOTO)
METRO

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July 24 -- Two cotton-top tamarins will take refuge in Assiniboine Park Zoo from Calgary Zoo following last month's flood. (SUPPLIED PHOTO) METRO Photo Store

Assiniboine Park Zoo is lending a helping hand to the Calgary Zoo.

As a result of recent flooding in Calgary, Jamie Dorgan, general curator for the Calgary Zoo, sent out emails to other Canadian zoos for assistance. Dorgan said Assiniboine Park Zoo was one of the first to reply.

"We did call them and email them to offer our assistance in any way that we could help out," Gary Lunsford, general curator for the Assiniboine Park Zoo, said. "After about a week, they did send out some emails requesting assistance in housing some animals, primarily in one of the facilities that was condemned due to the water damage, so some of those animals fit well into our collection."

"They had a good home for the cotton-top tamarins and the prehensile-tailed porcupines," Dorgan said.

The Calgary Zoo plans to send three cotton-top tamarins and two prehensile-tailed porcupines to the Assiniboine Park Zoo.

"We’re hoping by the end of this week they’re getting on a plane," Dorgan said.

When they arrive in Winnipeg, they will not be ready for public viewing right away.

"They will remain in quarantine for 30 days, after which point they’ll be monitored and we’ll do some standard testing just to make sure they’re all nice and healthy before being introduced to the toucan ridge," Lunsford said.

Cotton-top tamarins and prehensile-tailed porcupines originate from South America, so they will be staying in the toucan ridge, as toucans come from the same tropical area.

At the moment, the fate of the tamarins and porcupines is uncertain. Dorgan said the South America building which housed these animals had to close because of flood damage.

"The whole building had to close," Dorgan said. "It contained over 30 animals."

"It could be some time before they have that back up," Lunsford said.

Dorgan said it could be months.

"It’s probably going to take until the end of November, early December," he said of the reparations.

"It’s pretty bad there. Basically our zoo is on an island," Dorgan said. "We’ve got almost no animals on the island, other than the big stuff that had to stay behind, like elephants, rhinos, and giraffes."

Right now, Dorgan said the staff is pulling apart walls and drying and disinfecting old buildings which have been submerged in about eight feet of water. Over the next few weeks, they plan to assess what needs to be rebuilt and possibly begin the rebuilding process.

"We’re still in a bit of a scramble mode," Dorgan said. "It’s better than it was last week. Each week is getting better."

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