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San Antonio Zoo sending team to help with Hurricane Ian recovery

The zoo is mobilizing a support unit to the main impact zone of Hurricane Ian in Punta Gorda, as part of the Zoological Disaster Response, Rescue, and Recovery.

SAN ANTONIO — The San Antonio Zoo is mobilizing a support unit Sunday morning to the main impact zone of Hurricane Ian in Punta Gorda, Florida, as part of the Zoological Disaster Response, Rescue, and Recovery (ZDR3). 

The zoo is sending leadership, an electrician, a welder, and additional multi-trade individuals to assist in clearing debris, restoring power, and fixing facilities and habitats.

Leading the team is Adam Malstaff, the director of facilities for the San Antonio Zoo.

“You never have enough water, bug spray is clutch, and then just each time we learn a little bit of stuff, we bring a little different equipment,” Malstaff said.

ZDR3 was first established after the zoo led a statewide effort to help Houston's Downtown Aquarium and Texas Zoo in Victoria during Hurricane Harvey. 

Now, ZDR3 utilizes network facilities, including San Antonio Zoo, for deployment once needs in the region are identified and appropriate access permissions are granted. 

San Antonio Zoo has one of ZDR3's largest and most experienced deployment units, most recently mobilizing to Louisiana after Hurricane Laura. 

Malstaff and two truckloads of supplies including water and generators left the SA Zoo Sunday morning for their 20-hour trip to Florida. Some of their travel arrangements are still up in the air.

“We had booked a hotel and that’s since been canceled because of power outages that are continuing to happen. So yeah, we’re going in a little bit blind, again that’s kind of part of our preparedness we bring cots, sleeping bags," Malstaff said.

The Zoo crews will be in Punta Gorda for three days, so they plan to make it count.

“Our goal is going to be working sun-up to sun-down and provide the best service we can and get as much done for them. And we’re going to do it with a smile because we love it,” Malstaff adds.

This support mission is being made possible with gas cards donated by Valero Energy, a vehicle provided by Ancira Auto Group, and a generator donated to the zoo by HOLT CAT San Antonio.

Our thoughts and prayers go out to all the animals and people impacted by the storm.

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