Zoo hauls in water after break in line, but animals are safe

2013-04-23T00:00:00Z Zoo hauls in water after break in line, but animals are safeDarren DaRonco Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star
April 23, 2013 12:00 am  • 

Visitors to the Tucson zoo could face long lines looking for a sip of water or access to the lone functioning bathrooms for the next couple of days after a waterline broke Monday.

Reid Park Zoo officials shut down running water to the entire facility as crews scrambled to repair the broken line near the llama and anteater exhibits.

Animals at the zoo were in no danger from the disruption, said zoo spokeswoman Vivian VanPeenen. In fact, the only animals affected by the break appear to be the ones that require functioning toilets.

VanPeenen said the only open restrooms are in the zoo's Conservation Learning Center because those toilets are connected to a separate, reclaimed water system.

"Most of the animals have pools and access to water in their exhibits," VanPeenen said. "The only thing we have to do is bucket in potable drinking water for the animals because their drinkers are turned off."

Zookeepers were getting the water from the city's Parks and Recreation Department's compound. She said keepers were filing up large buckets with fresh drinking water and carting them to back to the zoo.

"So it's not a problem at all. It's just not as convenient as turning on a faucet. But everybody's got fresh water," VanPeenen said. "There's no animal-related or safety issues at all. It's more a visitor inconvenience because all of the water had to be turned off."

While the zoo remains open, officials recommend delaying a trip for a day or two until work is complete.

Early estimates anticipated it would take two days to repair the water main, but VanPeenen said crews located the leak sooner than expected, and it was possible the water would be back on by this morning.

Contact reporter Darren DaRonco at 573-4243 or ddaronco@azstarnet.com.

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