Winter weather takes toll on animals at zoo

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, December 22, 2009

The old saying that the weather is neither fit for man or beast proved true this week.

With rainfall reaching nearly nine inches in some areas of the county and lightning peeling, Mike McClelland and his critters took the blunt of the cold, rainy weather.

With the first storm, lightning tripped one of the breakers at McClelland’s Critter’s, a privately owned zoo near Ebenezer, causing the temperature to drop quickly.

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“The temperature dropped about 20 degrees in just a short time and we lost heat in the snake room,” McClelland said. “When the temperature drops below 50 degrees, snakes become stressed. Their bodies just couldn’t take the cold without heat in the room. I lost seven of them and one of my biggest pythons.”

And, that wasn’t the last of McClelland’s winter weather woes.

On Monday, lightning struck and killed the newest members of McClelland’s critter family, an “incredibly beautiful” zebra.

“I had just gotten the zebra right after Thanksgiving,” McClelland said.

“I got him from Missouri and paid a good price for him. He was just a year and a half old and had started to tame down. He was a fine one.”

The zebra was in a pen with three donkeys.

During all the rain and lightning, the donkeys got under a wooden shed but the zebra was standing next to the metal gate. “

The lightning struck the gate and hit him and killed him right there,” McClelland said. McClelland said the last time there was a big thunderstorm in the area, one of his transformers got knocked out.

“I don’t know what it is out here,” he said, adding that it seem like there was a lightning rod around somewhere.

“But losing my zebra was just a freak thing.”