Primarily Primates Executive Director Brooke Chavez, heartbreakingly, shared that she had never imagined her office would turn into a morgue.
Power facilities in Texas have been crippled by a lengthy cold breeze and winter storm after it ended up causing millions of outages. In addition to human residents, who have found themselves struggling in the dark and cold climate for days, animals too have been bearing the brunt of the deep freeze. Unfortunately, it has also resulted in some casualties, the latest being the animal residents at the San Antonio Primarily Primates sanctuary. According to WVLT-TV, several animals including monkeys, lemurs, and a chimpanzee froze to death at the nonprofit San Antonio-area wildlife sanctuary during unforgiving chilly weather which was aggravated by the sudden power outage.
Speaking to the San Antonio Express-News, Primarily Primates Executive Director, Brooke Chavez, said, "I never, ever thought my office would turn into a morgue, but it has." The power at the 70-acre sanctuary that houses more than 400 primates went out early Monday. Chavez and her team of 12 immediately began making preparations to keep the residents warm. They began gathering space heaters, generators, propane tanks, and blankets to protect the animals from the freezing temperatures. But as the night crept in, there was a sudden plunge in the temperatures and so the team decided to evacuate and move the animals into other shelters.
"I've never faced a decision like this," shared Chavez. "Having to decide who we can save, depending on the predictability of which animals we can catch." While trying to execute this new plan, they were shocked to discover that several animals had already died after being left there to survive for themselves. "Someone asked me how many animals have died. I don't know yet," she recalled, according to CNN. "I know we lost lots of monkeys, lemurs, and tropical birds." The sanctuary managed to transport many of its residents to the San Antonio Zoo and a sanctuary near the Oklahoma border. A few of the evacuated animals were sent to the homes of people who volunteered.
There are still 33 chimpanzees residing at the sanctuary as it proved to be quite difficult to transport them. It is not known how many animals have died and Chavez said they will only find out the accurate number of casualties once the temperature rises and the snow starts to melt. According to Newsweek, Primarily Primates sanctuary took to Facebook previously and called for assistance when the power outage occurred due to the severe climatic conditions. They sought items like peanut butter, blankets, jelly, bread, and water.
Soon, they were left overwhelmed by the public who showed their support during the most distressing time. Chavez thanked everyone for their help saying, "Instead of feeling absolutely horrible, I'm trying to look at the positives." She added, "I'm grateful that we have been able to save as many animals that we already have. And I'm grateful for the people who have brought us supplies for our animals. I cannot believe their generosity." Moreover, she publicly thanked the San Antonio Zoo for extending a helping hand and taking in 14 primates and 10 macaw parrots.
Millions of residents in Texas were left helpless after a massive winter storm hit the state during the weekend. As the power grid snapped, Governor Greg Abbott called for an investigation into the operators, the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT), before criticizing it for being "anything but reliable." According to Newsweek, he said, "Far too many Texans are without power and heat for their homes as our state faces freezing temperatures and severe winter weather. This is unacceptable." He added, "Reviewing the preparations and decisions by ERCOT is an emergency item so we can get a full picture of what caused this problem and find long-term solutions."
"ERCOT is an independent private entity that, candidly, I have both investigated and prosecuted before when I was attorney general of Texas, and we're now investigating again," he said according to CNN. "I'm not suggesting any way that there's been any criminal activity or anything like that, but it is something that needs to be looked at."