Numerous primates and tropical birds have died after power loss at San Antonio-area animal sanctuary

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A San Antonio-area animal sanctuary was unable to fulfill its mission this week, as numerous animals perished in the winter storm barreling through the state, the San Antonio Express-News reports.

Primarily Primates takes in animals from the research and entertainment industries, aiming to rescue and rehabilitate them from previous abuse and exploitation. When the power failed around 6 a.m. Monday, handlers at the 70-acre sanctuary were forced to try everything they could to keep the animals protected, the daily reports.



Brooke Chavez, executive director of Primarily Primates, told the Express-News that she and her staff tried to keep the animals on-site warm using everything at their disposal. Generators, space heaters, propane tanks and loads of blankets weren’t enough, however, and a chimpanzee, numerous monkeys, lemurs and countless tropical birds died in the freezing temps.

“I’ve never faced a decision like this,” Chavez told the Express-News. “Having to decide who we can save, depending on the predictability of which animals we can catch.”



Many of the sanctuary’s 400 animals have been evacuated to the San Antonio Zoo, another sanctuary near the Oklahoma border and homes of volunteers, but many animals remain at the facility, where temperatures hover around 28 degrees.

The nonprofit — located about 35 minutes north of SA in Leon Springs — is in need of propane tanks, generators, space heaters and blankets to care for the remaining animals.

The sanctuary has received several donations since posting a call for help on social media, but will need more assistance to care for the animals who remain on-site. Chavez said most homes nearby have electricity, but the sanctuary is one of the few places in the area without.

Chavez told the daily that people on social media have criticized the sanctuary for not being better prepared for the freezing temperatures.

While she says her staff did take steps in anticipation of the storm — including storing water for the animals in large trash bins — she makes an excellent point regarding the ongoing power crisis that’s affected millions across Texas.

“How could we have been prepared for this?” Chavez asked. “We could have had every portable heater available, but if we’re stranded without electricity, what is the point?”

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