Animals Escape During Evacuation From Wildlife Waystation
Wildlife Waystation (ktla.com / September 1, 2009)
Zoo spokesman Jason Jacobs says the female chimps fled Tuesday afternoon, prompting zoo visitors to evacuate.
One chimp made her way to the small primates and bird exhibit before being tranquilized about 20 minutes later.
The other climbed over the fence and into Griffith Park.
She was spotted about an hour later and was led into the back of a truck by her trainer.
They were among 400 animals, including lions and tigers, that were evacuated from the Wildlife Waystation as a giant wildfire burns in the Angeles National Forest.
Although many animals had been evacuated, several lions, tigers, bears and other animals were still waiting to be moved, according to Waystation spokesman Jerry Brown.
"We're moving the animals as quickly as they can be moved," Brown said. "This has been a slow process. A tall order."
Brown said a truckload of chimpanzees was moved in the late afternoon, and officials were preparing a load of lions and tigers to be moved.
"This is a complex process," he said. "Many of these big cats have never had to be handled before, so they're not used to this. That makes it harder to get them into cages and such."
Some of the 350 to 400 animals at the preserve will have to be left behind, he said, but Waystation operators believed they would not be endangered by the blaze.
"The number of firefighting personnel on the premises has tripled and quadrupled today, so everybody left behind will be taken care of," he said.
People with flatbed trailers and box trailers came to the Waystation Monday, answering the preserve's plea for help in evacuating the four-legged residents, Brown said.
The evacuated animals were taken to the Los Angeles Zoo, Pierce College and other temporary shelters, Brown said.