T.I.G.E.R.S. Preserve mostly spared by Irene

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Greetings from Myrtle Beach.  This past week, we escaped Irene’s wrath and news outlets immediately launched a release informing visitors that the Grand Strand was open for business. After just a little clean up, the T.I.G.E.R.S. Carolina Safari run by Dr. Bhagavan Antle and its animal handlers were ready for the next scheduled tour.

Farther north, however, the damage from flooding was still being assessed.

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As Hurricane Irene went north, the Cape Wildlife Center in Barnstable, Mass., operated by The Humane Society of the United States and The Fund for Animals, was safeguarding the wildlife rehabilitation hospital to protect the facility and its wild patients against potential high winds, heavy rainfall and flooding.

The Cape Wildlife Center is open every day of the year from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. to care for sick, injured and orphaned wildlife; in 2010, more than 1,400 wild animals representing 135 native wildlife species were treated at its clinic.

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All wild patients, from songbirds to seabirds and hawks to raccoons, were transported from outside enclosures to the new state-of-the-art recovery ward inside the facility. Staff were to ensure the safety of the wild patients during Hurricane Irene while they rehabilitated from injuries before their return to the wild.

While many checked weather reports to keep up with Hurricane Irene’s devastating path last weekend, local wildlife may have already seen it coming.

With theories and studies centering on this unique sixth sense, some wildlife experts believe there are animals able to predict a variety of natural disasters such as earthquakes, hurricanes and tsunamis before they hit.  N.C. Wildlife Biologist Robert Norville said that animal behavior patterns change noticeably when air pressure begins to drop.  

“Animals certainly, in my observations, do sense changes in barometric pressure and we see heightened activity level by animals in general prior to a big storm, but it doesn’t have to be a hurricane,” Norville said. “It can be any storm with pressure moving towards us; and as pressure drops, we see animals feed longer. There’s more activity during those times and obviously we can surmise that they are taking additional food storage for what they sense to be a major event like what we just had or a winter storm.”

Despite some wind gusts and heavy rains Friday night, the Myrtle Beach area was largely spared from the blunt of the massive Hurricane Irene. Winds howled through the night Friday, temporarily knocking out power in some areas, but Saturday morning brought only reports of minor damage such as fallen trees and limbs. T.I.G.E.R.S. Preserve and Preservation Station were unscathed and fully prepared to open on Monday for the next scheduled tour.  For information regarding the Carolina Safari, Preservation Station and the Rare Species Fund, visit

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www.myrtlebeachsafari.com.


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