Dade City, Florida -- A Dade City zoo was damaged by heavy storms Sunday night. A couple heavy oak trees have absorbed too much water over the years and uprooted falling onto animal's cages and damaging expensive property.
"We were lucky it wasn't worse," said Dade City Wild Things' zoo president Randy Stearns.
On Monday afternoon, crews started sawing parts of a 100-year-old, 100-foot-tall oak tree that fell over onto another oak tree. In total, four trees fell down.
At 1,000 pounds, Roy, a Siberian tiger, is the largest animal at Dade City's Wild Things zoo and it was his habitat that took the brunt of the damage. His special fence can hold the weight of a 2,000-pound cow.
"It's not your average chain link. It's a 9-gauge, so it's a lot more stiff and stronger and it still buckled at the top when the tree fell on it, but it is still standing tall," said Stearns.
Stearns' mother Kathy Stearns is the zoo's director. She was caring for the leopards with a veterinarian when she was almost crushed Sunday night by the falling oak trees.
"My mom, Kathy, was actually 300 feet from it. That's kind of like having a couple Greyhound buses on top of each other just falling over," explained Randy Stearns. "That's a very big tree. It's over 100 years old."
Roy and Kathy Stearns weren't the only close calls. A western cougar named Tasha had her caged smashed in. She was not hurt though and neither were any of the other zoo animals.
There are hundreds of animals and hundreds of different species. The zoo sees about 45,000 guests a year. This year, they opened on Sundays so they are hoping that will bring in more traffic.
Randy Stearns said the damage will cost their non-profit upwards of $50,000.
"We do a lot of it ourselves to help save money, but that won't be enough," he says.
To help the zoo rebuild you can click on these links below or call Kathy or Randy Stearns at: 813-714-2555 or 352-467-2311.