When Hurricane Matthew hits, the lions and tigers can’t evacuate.
As many Horry County residents prepare to leave the area on Thursday, others have to stay and protect their animals.
In Socastee, Waccatee Zoo owner Kathleen Futrell has bears, lions and tigers, as well as several different types of primates.
We have iron, big cages that we put them in so they’re double locked.
Kathleen Futrell, Waccatee Zoo
“We have iron, big cages that we put them in so they’re double locked,” Futrell said. “If a tree would hit the outside, they’re still locked in.”
Some staff plan to stay overnight at the zoo during the hurricane to make sure nothing happens to the animals. Futrell said staff will go out periodically to check the fences and fallen trees.
The windows of the primate houses will be boarded up, and smaller primates will be housed in a large concrete dome in the middle of the zoo.
“The pens have been built to stand whatever comes and the fact that we’re here to hear and see whatever is going on,” she said. “That’s about how we do it.”
This is our 28
Kathleen Futrell, Waccatee Zoo
Futrell said she doesn’t expect any animals to get loose during the storm.
“This is our 28th year and we haven’t had a problem with a loose animal,” she said. “We’re hoping that it keeps turning east, and we’re going to get less and less storm. It’s turning for the best right now, and if it holds its main course like it is right now, that’s going to be a lot better for us — it won’t be a direct hit or anything.”
We do have backups as far as bottled water, plenty of flashlights, all of those things, in case we lose electricity and don’t have clean running water.
Grand Strand Humane Society
At the Grand Strand Humane Society in Myrtle Beach, Director of Operations Jess Wnuk was ready for the storm no matter the severity.
“Our game plan for right now, now that the storm has been downgraded a bit, is to move any dogs that we have in our outside kennels inside the main building so that everyone is safely inside, sandbagging our doors,” she said. “We do have backups as far as bottled water, plenty of flashlights, all of those things, in case we lose electricity and don’t have clean running water.”
To people like us, they’re kids. They’re family.
Gerry Leigh, Camp Bow Wow
If need be, the shelter is ready to send the 140 animals to a facility farther north if an evacuation is necessary. Two staff members will be in the shelter at all times during the storm to make sure the animals are safe.
In order to make more room, the shelter already is sending seven of its dogs to Camp Bow Wow, a dog-boarding facility that has a partnership with the humane society.
One of the dogs, a pitbull mix named Jada, will be spending the night at Camp Bow Wow. Wnuk said Jada, who was surrendered by her owner and has separation anxiety, fares better at the boarding facility during storms.
The humane society has a partnership with Camp Bow Wow and often sends its dogs there, where they can socialize with other animals more than they could at the shelter.
Gerry Leighton, who owns Camp Bow Wow, says she’ll be staying at her facility through the night during the hurricane to watch over the dogs.
“To people like us, they’re kids,” she said. “They’re family.”
Christian Boschult, 843-626-0218, @TSN_Christian