12 animals at San Antonio sanctuary die during deep freeze

Primarily Primates’ oldest chimp has died

A woman walks through falling snow in San Antonio, Sunday, Feb. 14, 2021. Snow and ice blanketed large swaths of the U.S. on Sunday, prompting canceled flights, making driving perilous and reaching into areas as far south as Texas’ Gulf Coast, where snow and sleet were expected overnight. (AP Photo/Eric Gay) (Eric Gay, Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

SAN ANTONIO – A nonprofit in Leon Springs is mourning the loss of 12 animals that died during the dangerous, cold air mass that has devastated Bexar County and surrounding areas this week.

Primarily Primates on Wednesday said the animals, including monkeys, lemurs and one chimpanzee, died, as the 78-acre sanctuary has been without electricity since Monday morning.

The chimpanzee, Violet, most likely died from a stroke than from hypothermia, officials said. At 58, she was the Primarily Primates’ oldest chimp.

Officials said she “was young at heart, outgoing and spirited.”

The sanctuary houses hundreds of animals, including 32 chimpanzees, for life. The animals, the majority of them being primates, were rescued from research and entertainment industries.

“Every animal matters to us and we are devastated,” Priscilla Feral, the president of Friends of Animals, which manages Primarily Primates, said in a news release.

“We know this unprecedented Arctic blast is taking a toll on humans, which is why we are so grateful to the San Antonio Zoo staff for helping us transport and care for animals as well as the more than 60 volunteers who have organized meetups and driven their 4x4s in treacherous conditions to bring us supplies.”

The San Antonio Zoo on Monday asked the community for help in gathering items for the shelter, including blankets, flashlights, propane tanks, generators and heaters.

Since then, staff and volunteers worked around the clock to evacuate animals from the sanctuary and keep the ones that remained safe and warm.

“Their kindness brings some comfort during this nightmare. They are heroes, and so are our staff members,” Feral added.

Primarily Primates’ Executive Director Brooke Chavez on Wednesday said the surviving chimpanzees are doing well and keeping warm with properly ventilated propane heaters. Staff members are checking on them every 20 minutes.

Other primates that remained on the property are staying warm with generators and heaters.

As of Wednesday afternoon, the sanctuary remains without power. It is asking for donations of generators, peanut butter, bread, jelly, camping lights, propane tanks, small disposable propane heater bottles, salt for de-icing, and water.

The sanctuary is located at 26099 Dull Knife Trail. Monetary donations can be made online.

As of Wednesday morning, 2.7 million Texans are still without electricity as restoration efforts have been hampered by another round of freezing rain and snow in parts of the state.

More than 250,000 CPS Energy customers have been affected by the outages throughout Wednesday morning.

One last piece of upper-level energy will come through Wednesday night into Thursday morning, producing yet another chance for a wintry mix.

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About the Author:

Rebecca Salinas has worked as a digital journalist in San Antonio for six years. Her skills include content management, engagement and reporting.