Carr Fire: Park employees save 50 vulnerable animals by taking them home

Employees at the Turtle Bay Exploration Park in Redding took Whisper the bobcat, Loki the fox and almost 50 other animals home with them Thursday night to keep them safe from the deadly Carr Fire, said Turtle Bay CEO Mike Warren.

Turtle Bay, which houses dinosaur exhibits, botanical gardens and animal sanctuaries on its 300 acres, announced on Twitter it was closed all of Friday. The Sundial Bridge, which stretches over the Sacramento River to connect with the park, was also closed as of Friday morning.

Although the property wasn’t immediately threatened by flames Friday morning, Warren said worsening air quality made the park unsafe for its 50-some fauna.

What’s more, many Turtle Bay employees live in areas mandated to evacuate and wouldn’t have been able to make it to work, Warren said.

Staff members whose homes are unaffected by the blaze offered to care for all sorts of species — racoons and cockatoos, tortoises and eagles — until the situation improves, Warren said.

They brought “everything but the fishes” home in portable habitats Thursday evening, and Warren confirmed Friday morning that all Turtle Bay animals were “in a safe place.”

A Gulf Fritillary butterfly rests on a flower in the Butterfly House at the Turtle Bay Exploration Park in Redding. Andy Alfaro Sacramento Bee Staff Photo

Turtle Bay raises and showcases animals that, whether injured, domesticated or otherwise, could not survive in the wild, Warren said.

In lieu of a day at Turtle Bay, some employees have volunteered to staff the nearby Sheraton Hotel, which Warren heard was shorthanded and overbooked Friday morning.

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