How zoos protect—and evacuate—animals during wildfires
Not all animals can be safely evacuated. With fires in the West becoming increasingly common, zoos must prepare for disaster.
Early on Friday morning, a brush fire broke out near the Los Angeles Zoo. It was November 9, and Southern California’s fire crews were already battling one record-breaking blaze. Northeast of Los Angeles, the Woolsey Fire had jumped the 101 Freeway earlier that morning and was burning south. Just seven hours later, it would roar through Malibu to the beach, leaving a swath of charred ruins.
Situated in the northeast side of the city’s 4,210-acre Griffith Park, the Los Angeles Zoo and Botanical Gardens is home to more than 1,400 mammals, birds, amphibians, and reptiles—many of them endangered species. The zoo’s lush green property is backed by hills covered in oily chaparral shrubs, parched by the long dry season, and