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Paging Dr. Doolittle

“We are out here like pure animals,” New Orleans Rev.Issac Clark told CNN last Thursday as the city’sconvention center descended into anarchy. They should have been so lucky.

In fact, aside from two otters and a raccoon, the 1,500 animal residents atthe city’s Audubon Zoo seem to have fared far better than their humanneighbors thanks to years of careful planning.

“We told [the zoo administrators] what they really needed to plan forwas after the storm when your facility is obliterated—for your lack ofpower and how you’re going to maintain food and supplies for theanimals,” said Ron McGill, a spokesman for Miami’sMetroZoo, who advised Audubon officials on hurricane preparedness after theFlorida zoo was devastated by Hurricane Andrew in 1992. “I don’twant to second guess city officials in New Orleans, but the Audubon Zoo guys hadtheir ducks in a row; they knew what they were doing,” McGill said.“In fact, the police actually came to the zoo two days after the hurricaneto fill up their cars from the gas pumps that were stored there specifically forthis type of emergency.”

Asked whether New Orleans Mayor C. Ray Nagin had dropped bythe Audubon to pick up some pointers, his spokeswoman, TamiFrasier, said, “I don’t know if the mayor’s been downthere yet.” A representative for Louisiana Governor KathleenBlanco did not return calls for comment, and Audubon Zoo officialscould not be reached.

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