Park leaders look to protect animals from Irene

By Nikki

CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCIV) -- One Lowcountry park continues to keep a close eye on the tropics.{}

Charles Towne Landing is home to a variety of animals including: bobcats, bison, elk, and cougars.

"When a storm is out in the Atlantic and it has a potential threat of hitting us, we're taking precautions," said park ranger Rob Powell.

The park is home to more than 22 different animal species.

"Charles Towne Landing is the birthplace of South Carolina," said Powell.{} "All of these animals represent what was originally here at the time of settlement."

Powell says the park is ready for whatever Irene brings.

"We have two inland park facilities we can evacuate to, and we may also work with Riverbank Zoo in Columbia," said Powell.

The park has several concrete holding cells also designed to keep its otters, bobcats, pumas, bears, and turkeys out of harm's way.

"And emergency food and water are placed there in case the power or water services are terminated," he said.

Powell says his team is always ready for threatening weather. {}

"We have a plan we run through at least twice a year.{} We practice escapes or dealing with storm damage with our entire staff.{} We all have specific roles to play so we are rehearsed in what to do during storms."

Because of their large size, even during a big storm, the park's deer, bison and elk remain in their enclosed habitat.{}{} Powell says none of these animals have ever been injured during a major natural disaster.

To prevent any of the larger animals from escaping during a storm, the park has three gated enclosures.{} One surrounds the animal's habitat.{} Another surrounds the entire zoo.{} The final enclosure surrounds the park.

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