Hail Kills Animals, Injures Visitors at Colorado Zoo

The Associated Press
Jerilee Bennett/The Gazette via AP

Fourteen people were injured, and at least two animals were killed by enormous hailstones when a storm struck the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo on Monday.

“It was hail the size I’ve never seen before,” said Jenny Koch, the zoo’s marketing director, in speaking to the Denver Post. “Basically chunks of ice. … It’s frightening.” The rain of icy projectiles also damaged approximately 400 vehicles in the parking lot. The zoo was forced to evacuate its visitors, who were transferred to Cheyenne Mountain High School until the danger had passed.

The animals initially killed were a vulture and a duck—a second vulture has since perished, according to reports by the Post. A triage was established at the zoo by trained medical personnel. While nine were treated at the scene, five others—including three zoo employees—had to be transferred to a hospital for traumatic injuries caused by the massive hailstones. One visitor’s phone captured some terrified bears trying to find cover from the storm.

Hailstones the size of softballs were reported in some areas, as the violent storm caused power outages for over 2,000 residents. Highway closures, extensive property damage, and the threat of flooding continue to plague the area.

The zoo remained closed on Tuesday to care for its injured animals, and repair damage from the storm. According to their statement, the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo is “assessing whether the closure will need to continue into the coming days.”

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