Chimpanzee, Monkeys Freeze to Death After Power Cut at Texas Sanctuary

A number of animals, including monkeys, lemurs and a chimpanzee, have died at an animal sanctuary in Texas after the power went out amid snow and freezing temperatures in the state.

Brooke Chavez, executive director of Primarily Primates in Leon Springs, told the San Antonio Express-News that the power went out about 6 a.m. on Monday at the sanctuary, which holds more than 400 animals.

Chavez said she and 12 staff members and volunteers set up generators, space heaters, propane tanks and blankets in an effort to save the animals. As the temperature dropped further at night, the decision was made to move to the animals into other shelters.

While doing so, they found that several animals had already died, with others being left to survive for themselves.

"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.

"I never, ever thought my office would turn into a morgue, but it has."

Chavez said they won't know how many animals have died until the temperatures rise and the snow starts to melt. Among the confirmed dead so far include one chimpanzee, several monkeys, some lemurs and a large number of tropical birds.

The Primarily Primates sanctuary had previously called for the public's help after the power went out due to the severe weather conditions, seeking donations for blankets, peanut butter, jelly, bread and water.

Chavez said they are thankful for support from the public following their call for help amid the turbulent and distressing times.

"Instead of feeling absolutely horrible, I'm trying to look at the positives," Chavez said. "I'm grateful that we have been able to save as many animals that we already have. And I'm grateful for the people who have brought us supplies for our animals. I cannot believe their generosity."

Chavez also thanked the San Antonio Zoo for taking in 14 primates and 10 macaw parrots, with some animals also taken to the homes of volunteers.

There are still some animals remaining at the sanctuary, including 33 chimpanzees staff determined were too difficult to transport.

Primarily Primates has been contacted for further comment.

Texas has seen widespread blackouts leaving millions without power after a major winter storm hit the state over the weekend.

Governor Greg Abbott called for an investigation into the operator of the state's power grid, the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT), who he criticized as being "anything but reliable" over the past few days.

"Far too many Texans are without power and heat for their homes as our state faces freezing temperatures and severe winter weather. This is unacceptable," Abbott said.

"Reviewing the preparations and decisions by ERCOT is an emergency item so we can get a full picture of what caused this problem and find long-term solutions."

(File photo) A chimpanzee waiting for frozen fruits on August 13, 2020 in Rome, Italy. A chimpanzee, several monkeys, lemurs and birds have died after the power went out in a San Antonio-area wildlife sanctuary amid freezing temperatures. Elisabetta A. Villa/Getty