Hurricane Ian: Flamingos in the Bathroom; Pets and Zoo Animals Rescue and Placement Efforts

We’re hunkered down! Our animals are safe w/staff on site to see them through the storm. The flamingos are having a hurricane party in the bathroom; eating, drinking, & dancing. Stay safe out there!” the tweet reads.

Flamingos at a Florida park hunkered down in a bathroom this week, safely riding out Hurricane Ian after it made landfall Wednesday in the Sunshine State.

The flamingos are residents of Sunken Gardens, a botanical park in St. Petersburg along the state’s west coast. The park tweeted the photo from its official account Wednesday to reassure animal lovers that the flamingos appeared safe from the oncoming storm. 

A photo of the pink creatures bunched together in a bathroom spread widely on social media and appeared to lighten some people’s mood amid the deadly, destructive storm. The snap also shows a large bowl of food and water on the ground.

Annabelle, a two-toed sloth, is seen inside for the hurricane:

Annabelle’s Keepers at the Chase Sanctuary have been working for the past 48 hours to prepare for the storm — boarding up the last of their residents — mostly primates, many critically endangered. The animals’ hurricane enclosures include doors that the keepers will be able to pass food and water through.

Animals are seen at the Chase Sanctuary Wildlife Conservancy ahead of the hurricane.
Chase Sanctuary Wildlife Conservancy

“They’ll stay in there indoors now probably for the next 24 to 36 hours,” Vassallo said, adding that the sanctuary also houses antelope, tortoises, sloths and big birds. “We put them up with a lot of food.” At the Carson Springs Wildlife Conservation Foundation in Gainesville, Florida, many of the animals will remain in their large outdoor enclosures, Christine Janks, president and co-founder of the foundation, told ABC News.

The small foundation is on high ground, so the biggest threat there is not the flooding but the hurricane-force winds, which could down oaks and other large trees on the enclosures, Janks said, adding that the keepers try to move the animals into the most secure sections of their enclosures because of this.

Meanwhile, at ZooTampa, macaws, hornbills and hawks were brought into the zoo’s ballroom, with handlers on hand to ride out the storm. Two bald eagles and a caracara were stored in the facility’s bathroom. During the commotion, birds of prey were draped with sheets.

“It just helps keep them quiet and relaxed,” zoo director Stephanie Williams said.

ZooTampa animal ambassador macaws were transferred to an indoor enclosure to keep them safe during the hurricane. (ZooTampa at Lowry Park)
Chuck-will’s-widow bird.
(Marathon Wildbird Center,Inc. photo/Beth Clifton collage)

The Florida Keys SPCA suffered little damage and reopened  just one day after Hurricane Ian passed. The Marathon Wild Bird Center reported receiving the first avian patient from Hurricane Ian on September 28,  2022,  a chuck-will’s-widow,  and has posted no updates since.

Flying squirrels rescued from Hurricane Ian.  (Suncoast Animal League photo)

The Suncoast Animal League,  of Palm Harbor,  noted that “It’s that time after a windy storm passes through when dozens of wildlife need help. And with baby squirrel season upon us,  we typically see an influx,  when the mildest of wind gusts can blow entire nests out of trees.

While Ian’s center came ashore near Georgetown, South Carolina, on Friday with much weaker winds than when it crossed Florida’s Gulf Coast earlier in the week, the storm left many areas of Charleston’s downtown peninsula under water. It also washed away parts of four piers along the coast, including two at Myrtle Beach.

Online cameras showed seawater filling neighborhoods in Garden City to calf level. As Ian moved across South Carolina on its way to North Carolina Friday evening, it dropped from a hurricane to a post-tropical cyclone.

The largest equestrian complex in the nation opened its doors Tuesday to shelter more than 3,000 horses and other animals from Hurricane Ian – and they did it for free..

As Hurricane Ian intensified and knocked on Florida’s door, horse owners began arriving early in the morning to set up their animals in 25 barns across the center’s 600 acres, according to Vinnie Card, operations manager of the World Equestrian Center. Since the center’s schedule had plenty of open space in its barns the facility was happy to take in animals in need of shelter. One barn will shelter Turbo the tortoise, 46, and a kangaroo named Spanky, both from The Peeps Foundation based in Ocala, mere steps away from the Equestrian Center. And another barn with a separate owner will house donkeys.

American Humane Society, and ABC and Washington Post