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Magnetic Hill Zoo opens its doors

Andrea Stockton, staff writer

April 4, 2011 — Magnetic Hill Zoo in Moncton has finally opened for the season after snow kept the gates closed in March.

Animals stayed huddled in their pens
Animals stayed huddled in their pens

The Magnetic Hill Zoo in Moncton usually opens its doors on Sundays in March. But this year, a swath of heavy snow and wintery conditions forced zoo keepers to stay closed.

“There were banks that were ten feet high and others that were covering seven foot fences,” says General Manager Bruce Dougan.

Over 300 cm of snow fell in the city this winter and that's enough for the animals to stay huddled inside of their pens. There were also some safety concerns that came with the piles of snow because barriers and fences that keep the animals in were completely buried.

“Our maintenance crew worked very hard to keep the zoo operating and make sure pathways are cleared and safe. We have to clear the snow from the pens and the fences so animals aren't walking out,” explains Dougan.

He adds that the animals are completely safe inside, but some had limited outdoor access.

“We can't manage all of the fence line of their pens and we've managed them into smaller holding areas.”

So for the first time in 10 years, the zoo stayed closed for the month of March. In previous years, attendants in March would donate money to the zoo, which went to animal habitat improvements. And while the contributions have been significant, Dougan said they were not willing to take the chance with public or animal safety this year.

“Conditions now are thankfully much, much better,” says Dougan. “The stand off fencing is completely exposed now to the path are great and the barriers are free of snow now and the areas that are still a little iffy at this point we have put barricades around so people don't have access to those areas.”

The zoo is hoping for more sunny skies to help melt the snow completely.

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