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Exotic animals evacuated from Waystation

September 1, 2009 12:00:00 AM PDT
The massive Station Fire is forcing the evacuation of the animals at the Wildlife Waystation in the Angeles National Forest. Moving chimps, a lion and the other exotic animals out of their canyon homes in the Angeles National Forest proved not to be an easy task.About half a dozen chimps were evacuated from the smoke and the flames to a safer place. Their screams brought tears to the eyes of Martine Collette. "Very scary, very scary. I'm relieved that they're leaving, but I feel very sad for them because it's so frightening," Collette said. "But they're leaving now, and they'll be safe, so I'm good with that."

Collette runs the Wildlife Waystation located in the Angeles National Forest. The Waystation is home for a number of exotic animals and it is being evacuated as the flames move closer. But how do you move a 300-pound lion?

"There is no panic. They shut down," Collette tells us. "They kind of hunker down and they are very, very calm about it. What makes them stressed is being put in crates, being moved and going to a strange facility."

Stress may have played a role in the actions of two female chimpanzees on Tuesday. During their evacuation from the Wildlife Waystation two of the chimps escaped from their holding crate at the L.A. Zoo.

Waystation and Zoo staff reacted immediately by evacuating the area and chemically immobilizing the adult female within 20 minutes of her escape. She was found in the South America section of the Zoo, and transported to the Zoo's health center.

The second female wandered up the hillside near the off-exhibit condor area and climbed over the perimeter fence of the zoo and into Griffith Park. She was calmed by Wildlife Waystation employees and led into the back of a truck by her trainer.

Back up in the mountains, the big problem continued to be water pressure Tuesday. So the forestry service hot-shots set up portable water tanks filled with thousands of gallons in case the fire got too close.

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