Thursday’s tornadoes in northwestern Illinois killed two animals and caused more than $200,000 in structural damage at Summerfield Zoo in Belvidere, according to one of the zoo’s owners.
No one was injured at the zoo after a storm that brought at least three tornado systems hit areas near Rockford on Thursday evening, the zoo confirmed on its Facebook page, but zoo owner Tammy Anderson said a black swan and an emu were killed. Other than that, the zoo’s “couple hundred” animals were accounted for, she said.
“It’s kind of amazing,” she said. “It runs right through, then you’re afraid to come out and find what you could find.”
As the storm approached, “We were headed for the basement. We got everybody in that we could get in. We couldn’t do a whole lot else.”
The zoo’s collection of reindeer rode out the tornado in the open, Anderson said. Their shelters were destroyed in the storm, as were many of the zoo’s fences.
“It appears right now that we have close to $200,000 in damages,” one of the zoo’s Facebook posts read. “If you come to help today, please bring hammers, strong magnets, fencing staples. Wear gloves!”
“All kinds of people are here right now,” Anderson said. “We are getting some of the pasture fences up right now.”
A GoFundMe page was started overnight to raise money for the zoo, and by 11:30 a.m. nearly $41,000 had been raised from over 900 donors.
“A quick survey of fencing alone tonight looks to be over $20,000 to repair. That doesn’t include the major structural damage,” the zoo wrote.
The zoo’s Facebook page is continuing to serve as a rallying point for donations of materials, labor, animal care, food and water.
The zoo, which was slated to open for the season the weekend of April 25, has mountain lions, zebra, ring-tailed lemurs, alligators, giant tortoises, arctic wolves, wallabies and more, according to their website. They also raise Arabian horses.