June 3, 2011
Tanganyika Wildlife Park is playing the role of Noah's Ark this week, taking in some animal refugees from flooding in North Dakota.
"We have a responsibility to really care for these animals," said Tanganyika Wildlife Park Director Matt Fouts.
Otherwise, many of the animals who are staying at Tanganyika may have nowhere else to go. One of the rivers threatening serious floods in North Dakota runs right through the Roosevelt Park Zoo in Minot, where the animals were evacuated from.
"A lot of times they get kind of left out. You know the stories are all the people evacuated and people lost their homes and their possessions, but a lot of times the animals get overlooked," said Fouts.
So Tanganyika is making sure the animals from North Dakota don't get overlooked by welcoming three giraffes and six large cats. The cats include an Amur tiger, Bengal tiger, two lions, and two Amur leopards which are some of the rarest large cats in the world.
"The fact that they could go to one place and be well cared for, professionally cared for, is a great relief," said Roosevelt Park Zoo Director David Merritt.
It was relief that came quickly, with Tanganyika only getting hours of notice before the animals arrived.
"It was all hands on deck, anyone that we could spare that day were getting things ready for the cats," said Fouts.
"I can't say enough about how quickly and [with] very little debate [they agreed. It was] just 'Yes we'll do it and we'll help.' And we haven't even talked about any compensation or anything like that," said Merritt.
Because Tanganyika directors say compensation isn't what is important in a time of disaster.
"It's always important to take care of the animals," said Fouts.
Tanganyika officials say they're not sure how long the animals will need a place to stay, but they're willing to help for as long as they are needed.
As of now, the animals from North Dakota will not be available for public viewing as the only open space for them is in an area that is separated from the rest of the park.