The Utica Zoo has shared in the serious storm damage across the Mohawk Valley this summer. Storms have knocked out power multiple times, most recently on Monday night. YNN's Andrew Sorensen tells us about the extraordinary efforts the zoo has had to go through to save money and their star attractions.
UTICA, N.Y. -- Families were being turned away from the Utica Zoo, but inside, was a zoo of commotion. Executive Director Andria Heath was making frantic phone calls after Monday night's storm.
"We have one of those transfer lines down. It's worse than the other times. It's like a main one," she said to the person on the other line.
They closed the zoo because of the downed line, they're also removing downed trees from multiple exhibits and debris has littered the pathways. It is a lot of work, but it's something they're getting used to.
"I'd say this is the fifth time. Ironically, it also happened Memorial Day weekend. Here we are Labor Day weekend. My superintendent of grounds, he's been here 32 years, said it's never been like this. We actually had two power outages within eight days this summer," said Heath.
This last summer storm brings one last hot crisis to the zoo.
Amy Augustine is one of the people in charge of saving the day with some good old-fashioned manual labor.
"Oh it's a lot. We recently got a fish delivery, so our freezer is almost three-quarters of the way full. So there's easily $15,00 to $17,000 worth of food in there that we need to try and save," she explained.
So box by box, they load up a refrigerator truck from Casa Imports, who have been on call all summer.
"Our sea lions' diet is, that is their diet is that fish, so we would be in a bit of crisis if we lost that product," said Augustine.
So that's how they've saved the day time and again for their four sea lions.
"But at some point, it's got to go back, so we'll have to move it at least twice," Augustine said.
Zoo employees said they're likely to keep this cycle of near-constant loading and unloading going until the zoo can afford a back-up generator for the kitchen.
The zoo says other meals, like meat for their lions, are also kept in their freezer, but they're packaged differently and less susceptible to thawing.