The strange winter blizzard in Texas has frozen to death at least twenty animals at the San Antonio Primarily Primates sanctuary.
Among the casualties were a chimpanzee, many monkeys, some lemurs and countless birds.
“I never, ever thought my office would turn into a morgue, but it has,” Brooke Chavez, executive director of Primarily Primates, told the San Antonio Express News.
Chavez said she won’t know how many animals have died until the storm subsides, and forecasts have predicted more winter weather through this week.
When the power went out on Monday, Chavez and her team began gathering generators, space heaters, propane tanks and blankets to keep their 400 animals warm.
But as temperatures plummeted further, the plan moved from preservation to evacuation.
“I’ve never faced a decision like this,” Chavez said.
“Having to decide who we can save, depending on the predictability of which animals we can catch.”
“Someone asked me how many animals have died. I don’t know yet,” Chavez said. “I know we lost lots of monkeys, lemurs and tropical birds.”
Still, many of the sanctuary’s residents were evacuated.
Some went to the San Antonio Zoo and a sanctuary near the Oklahoma border. Others went to the homes of volunteers.
Chimpanzees however remain at the sanctuary after proving difficult to transport, according to the newspaper.
Some animals evacuated from the sanctuary were biting at their fingers and tails, which can be an indicator of frostbite. Several animals were treated with antibiotics, pain and anti-inflammatory medications after. Some were also showing respiratory symptoms like wheezing and sneezing.
The 70-acre Primarily Primates was the first primate sanctuary founded in North America.