Landslide forces Cheyenne Mountain Zoo to relocate animals

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. — The wet weather has been causing some serious problems around the region.

Flooding and landslides have caused many trails and recreational areas to close, and now another popular attraction is being affected.

The Cheyenne Mountain Zoo is in the process of moving some of its animals that are now being threatened by a landslide, and they’re not your average creatures.

For many years, the zoo has never been affected by storm water, but this season’s record rainfall is starting to take its toll.

A hill is coming down and sliding into their conservation building.

“It’s just a thin, metal skin building and so the soil is starting to push against that and we’re worried that eventually the mud would break the metal,” Cheyenne Mountain Zoo President and CEO Bob Chastain said.

That’s why they’re taking precautionary measures and relocating the animals, because the creatures that live in the building could help bring back a diminishing population.

“There’s two species of animals here that are absolutely critical,” Chastain said.

One is a species of toad that has been classified as extinct in the wild.

The other is the black-footed ferret–one of the most endangered animals in North America.

“One of those species had seven individuals left in the world when we started breeding them. The other had less than 20,” Chastain said.

Both species raise their young in the building, but for their safety, they’ll have to move elsewhere.

“This is a major setback for those conservation programs because we currently don’t have a building that is functioning for those programs, and so we’re having to depend on the other partners to be able to use that,” Chastain said.

The toads will be staying at the zoo in a different building, and the pregnant ferrets are being moved to a quarantined area.

As for the others, they’re headed back to the US Wildlife Breeding Facility in Fort Collins.

If the land stops falling, their old home will be used as storage.

But if it comes down any further, they will have to demolish the building.

Zoo officials said they had a slow start to the summer season due to the rain. They’re hoping attendance will start to pick back up, because all of their operations and conservation efforts are funded by ticket sales.

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