A day after a devastating fire that took the lives of several animals, employees at the Little Ponderosa Zoo are asking for help to take care of the surviving animals.
The fire at the main barn of the Clinton rescue zoo was leveled by the fire. It was home to about 200 animals and was where the zoo stored most of their food and supplies. Fire investigators said Tuesday that the fire was an accident, likely caused by an electrical malfunction at the rear of the barn.
Workers risked their own lives to save as many animals as they could, but the zoo told TWRA that 12 primates, 6 or 7 cats and some reptiles and birds did not survive. Several other animals were injured, along with two employees who were trying to rescue them.
Bradley Swieda was preparing to meet with the founder James Cox for an interview when he saw the flames and decided to jump into action.
"I came in to turn in my application so I'm not really sure if I am working here or not but I'm volunteering right now. It's a place in need. I couldn't just not help. I'm seven minutes away. Nothing to do. Figured I would come here to do whatever I could," Swieda said.
A Great Pyrness dog named Charlie also ran towards the flames to protect his friends, several sheep stuck inside a pen.
"He was one of our sheep guardians and he really loved his sheep," said Rachel Vasseur, a volunteer.
Charlie was found inside the pen alive next to the sheep who did not survive the fire.
"We had to get him out of there but he tried his best and did a really good job," Vasseur said.
Charlie is recovering at a local veterinary hospital for his burns.
According to a post on the zoo's Facebook page, the zoo lost all of the animal food in the fire, along with food bowls and waterers.
"We are in desperate need of supplies. If you can make a monetary donation, you can go to our website at www.littleponderosazoo.com or you can donate supplies such as bowls, water bottles, hay, dog food, cat food, birdseed, rabbit pellets, llama ration, and beef, chicken, and deer meat for the Tigers, lynx, and Geoffrey's cat," the post said.
Here's a list of their most desperate needs:
Pet water bottles
Cat & dog food
Small animal cages
Halters and lead ropes
Coolers for food storage
Shovels, rakes, and hand tools
A deep freeze/refrigerator
The zoo is also scrambling to provide shelter for the animals as rain moves in on Tuesday and much colder temperatures are expected for the rest of the week. They are hoping to erect tents to provide temporary housing for the animals.
"Thank you again for all your love, support, and caring as we struggle through this trying time. So many tears have been shed but we want to pour our love and care to the animals here that need us and to the Ponderosa Zoo that is so dear to our hearts and rebuild it back to continue the good that it has been doing," the list goes on to say.
If you'd like to make a donation to help, click here. They are also asking for basic supplies such as bowls, water bottles, dog food, cat food and more. (If the link doesn't work, please go to the zoo's website and scroll down to the donate button.
Little Ponderosa Zoo is a 501c3 organization that rescues and houses exotic animals. It is home to a wide variety of mammals, reptiles and birds including big cats, monkeys, wolves, zebras and camels.
There's still no word on what caused the fire.