ROYAL OAK (WWJ) – The penguins and polar bears need not be alarmed, because it’s only a test.  A special drill is being held at Detroit Zoo on Wednesday to practice the response of zoo personnel and outside police and fire to an emergency.

In this case, a tornado that touched down at the zoo, causing heavy property damage and casualties, complete with injured actors.

zoo drill 2 Detroit Zoo Holds Emergency Drill

Drill underway at the Detroit Zoo (WWJ Photo/Ron Dewey)

The Detroit Zoo’s Patricia Janeway told WWJ Newsradio 950’s Ron Dewey it’s much like a dress rehearsal.

“A couple of years in the past we’ve had severe weather come in. We’ve had to evacuate the event early, make sure that all our guests are out of the zoo, the staff that remains are sheltered,” Janeway said.

This particular drill had zoo personnel and surrounding police and fire responding to a tornado that ripped through the area, with downed trees, wires and injured people.

“This is a great drill because it allows the zoo and these multiple responding agencies to practice their communication,” she said.

In the case of the animals at the zoo, Janeway says they are moved to indoor shelters at the first hint of heavy weather.

Janeway said the zoo has to deal with a lot of moving parts, not only people, but also animals and outside traffic along Woodward and I-696 — which is why they have drills like these on a regular basis.


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