Visitors at the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo were evacuated to Cheyenne Mountain High School and waited to be picked up after a powerful hailstorm storm hit the zoo Monday, Aug. 6, 2018, in Colorado Springs, Colo. Brandon Sneide, left, and his family were caught in the gift shop at the zoo. His son, Gabriel Sneide, clutches a stuffed animal from the zoo while he hugs his brother, Maximus Sneide. Savannah Sneide gets a hug from Sneide's girlfriend, Rebecca Andrews, while they wait for a ride. (Jerilee Bennett/The Gazette via AP)

Zoo cleaning up after hail kills 2 birds, injures others

August 07, 2018 - 5:56 pm

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (AP) — A Colorado zoo was cleaning up Tuesday after a hail storm that killed two birds and sent five people to the hospital.

Hail between about 3 to 4 inches (7.6 and 10.1 centimeters) — between the size of baseballs and softballs — smashed the skylights of several buildings, including some where animals are kept, on Monday at the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo. Bob Chastain, the zoo's president, said Tuesday that some workers were injured as they tried to get animals to safety.

The two animals killed were a 13-year-old Cape vulture named Motswari and a 4-year-old Mucovy duck named Daisy. There were 16 other animals injured but most were not seriously hurt, Chastain said. The most serious injury was an eye injury to a Rocky Mountain goat and three other animals suffered welts from the hail in injuries classified as medium, he said.

Chastain said no animals escaped. A young meerkat still hasn't been seen but Chastain said the animals, which grow up to be about 1½ pounds (0.7 kilograms) burrow so it's likely just underground.

The deaths and the injuries come a week after the zoo announced that it decided to euthanize an 8-week-old giraffe with medical problems.

Most of the approximately 280 cars in the zoo's parking lots were pummeled by hail and had their windshields smashed. Most of them must be towed away.

About 3,400 people were at the zoo southwest of downtown Colorado Springs when the short but intense storm hit Monday.

Besides those taken to the hospital, another nine people were treated at the scene, the Colorado Springs Fire Department said.

The storm knocked out power to nearly 2,000 customers and heavy rain and debris forced the closure of U.S. Highway 24 west of the resort town of Manitou Springs, The Colorado Springs Gazette reported.

The Broadmoor Hotel and resort also was pounded by hail.

Hail also postponed the planned start of the school year in the Hanover area on the plains southeast of Colorado Springs so officials could survey the damage.

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