Wild weather dealt one-two punch for animal park


SALEM TOWNSHIP, WAYNE COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) – The recent weather has provided a one-two punch to a zoo in Wayne County.

The Claws ‘N’ Paws Animal Park near Hamlin first saw damage during the big nor’easter in March.

Strong winds on Wednesday then caused even bigger problems.

The sound of chainsaws and movement of tree branches is now a common site at the Claws ‘N’ Paws Wild Animal Park.

High winds and storms have left behind quite a mess.

“At this point, we just want it to be over with. We want to be able to clean up so we can get ready for people to come!” zookeeper Debbie Maines said.

High winds on Wednesday caused a tree to fall right onto one of the cages.

There was a jackal inside at the time but he was not hurt.

“When I saw this pen, I was like, oh my goodness and the guy that was in was totally fine!” zookeeper Carina Fabbricatore said.

Trees are down all throughout the park’s 100 acre campus.

Claws ‘N’ Paws has 11 full-time employees in the off-season and most are now working ten to 12 hour days to clean-up.

“It’s just getting here, feeding all the animals, cleaning everybody and then after that we reconvene and eat lunch and we all head out and start picking up all of the stuff you see here. It all has to be picked up,” Fabbricatore said.

As of right now, the goal is to get the facility cleaned up so this place can open by May 1 but everything is weather dependent.

Claws ‘N’ Paws prides itself on being a “zoo in the woods.”

Workers know that sometimes costs at a cost but they can’t ever remember damage like this in the 44 year history of the facility.

“This winter has been the worst as far as the trees, yup, but hopefully we’ll have it all cleaned up and ready to go!” Maines said.

There is a little bit of good news.

Some of the trees taken down in the storms can be used again in some of the animal cages.

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