Dartmoor Zoo narrowly escapes having escapees after storm blows down fence

Storm Eunice storm damage
Dartmoor Zoo has closed this weekend after damage caused by Storm Eunice

Large birds at a Devon Zoo turned their beaks up at the opportunity of escape Friday night when Storm Eunice brought a perimeter fence down.

High winds uprooted a large tree at Dartmoor Zoological Park, bringing down a fence which surrounds some Rheas - but luckily the large flightless birds chose not to escape and stay where they were instead.

A large tree brought down the perimeter fence at the zoo during the storm

Surveying the storm and wind damage, the Zoo's Chief Executive Benjamin Mee said he feels very lucky that the birds, native to South America, chose not to escape. 

Benjamin Mee, Chief Executive at Dartmoor Zoo said: "Luckily this section was only containing rhea and the rhea came and had a look at the hole and decided not to go through which is very kind of them otherwise we could have had a lot of them running up and down the country lanes looking for very fast moving birds!"

The fence surrounds Rheas which chose not to escape.

This weekend tree surgeons were on site at the zoo clearing up the damage.

Mr Mee said despite the money Storm Eunice will have cost the zoo, estimated to be in the region of around £10,000, he feels the damage could have been much worse and he's relieved the fence came down where it did and not on the neighbouring wallaby field.

"If the wallabies had been in this field as well that would have been a whole different story because the wallabies would probably set up a breeding colony and be living in bushes in Devon now and be almost impossible to track!"

Tree surgeons have been working this weekend at Dartmoor Zoo

In 2016 Dartmoor Zoo made the headlines when a lynx chewed through the wall of its enclosure within hours of arriving at the site. It was eventually captured after being on the run for more than three weeks.Benjamin Mee bought Dartmoor Zoo in 2006 and later a film starring Matt Damon and Scarlett Johansson "We Bought a Zoo" was released based on the story.

In 2014 the zoo became a charity.