Sylvan Heights suffers major damage

Published 10:37 am Wednesday, December 29, 2010

SCOTLAND NECK, N.C. – Sylvan Heights Waterfowl Park will be closed until the end of the week while damage from heavy snow can be assessed and repairs started.

The bulk of the damage occurred at Sylvan Heights’ adjacent breeding center and all staff from both facilities are working throughout the daylight hours to get the birds safely secured and start working on rebuilding the aviaries.

The damage at the Park was significant but surmountable and should be completed by the end of the week. Fifteen birds at the breeding center have died but there is only one confirmed death at the Park.  One of the only three female Black Headed Ducks in the country died as a result of injuries sustained in the incident.  The other two survive at Sylvan Heights.

“We can’t determine a final number lost at this point, however,” said Assistant Director Ali Lubbock, “because stress from the trauma could result in more deaths.”

A few birds were injured by the collapsing pens and some were buried under the snow that ranged from 12 to over 15 inches in depth.

Lubbock added, “It was amazing that the flamingos survived the collapse of the netting … staff managed to herd them all into the building without any flying off.”

Answering a call for help, Disney’s Wild Animal Kingdom and a zoo in New York have committed to send several waterfowl husbandry professionals to assist the small staff.  Also helping with the clean-up and care of the birds are volunteers from the NC Zoo Society.

“The NC Zoo Society began its relationship with Sylvan Heights Waterfowl in 1997,” reports Society Executive Director, Russ Williams, “when I was invited to visit the facility by NC Zoo Director, David Jones.  At his prompting, the Society began supporting this world leader in propagation and conservation of rare and endangered waterfowl species.”

The NC Zoo Society is an independent association of members committed to fostering enduring personal connections between people and nature. We support the North Carolina Zoo and its projects that educate and inspire people about our natural environment. The Society, through the Zoo, conserves wildlife and wild places throughout the world, promotes scientific research and advocacy, encourages relationships with nature through outdoor recreation, and generates respect for animals and their welfare.