At least a dozen animals, including monkeys, lemurs and a chimpanzee, have died in the freezing temperatures at a Texas animal sanctuary that lost power, officials reported.
“We are devastated,” said Priscilla Feral, president of Friends of Animals, which manages the 78-acre nonprofit Primarily Primates sanctuary near San Antonio.
Feral told NBC News that after the electricity went out Monday morning, staff members scrambled to capture or herd about 32 animals into enclosures warmed with propane heaters or gas generators — but many refused to enter.
“Some of these lemurs and monkeys would not go in,” she said. Alpha male macaque monkeys “would not go into their heated bedrooms. Their subordinates went in. We lost a few monkeys that way.”
The sanctuary’s 58-year-old chimpanzee, Violet, likely died of a stroke, officials said, while the others apparently succumbed to the historic cold wave.
Dozens of the sanctuary animals are now safe in the warm enclosures on site, at indoor spaces at the San Antonio Zoo or elsewhere.
The sanctuary has provided homes for animals that had been used in labs, had been “discarded” by the entertainment industry or had been captured for the exotic pet trade, according to the sanctuary’s website.
The San Antonio Zoo sent out an urgent SOS to the public Tuesday on behalf of the sanctuary, calling for flashlights, blankets, propane tanks, generators and pet carriers.
The sanctuary has since sent out a call for peanut butter, bread, jelly, camp lights, water and other items as staffers camp out on site to monitor the animals in shifts. Some people have been staying in their cars between work, according to Feral. The biggest need continues to be fuel for heaters and generators, which the sanctuary called for again Thursday in a tweet.
The sanctuary plans to use any extra donations to set up a generator system to use if the power fails again in the future.