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Shell Factory opens after the storm

By Staff | Sep 20, 2017

While many businesses suffered damages from Hurricane Irma, the loss suffered at Shell Factory & Nature Park was among the more heartbreaking.

The nature park lost 11 animals from among its contingent of 400-plus in the storm, all from stress and heat after the electricity went out and the generator blew in an adjacent building where they had been secured to weather the storm, according to Karen Schneider, the Nature Park’s director.

The nature park lost a family of four marmosets as well as three Quaker parrots, two Turacao, a toucan and a Magpie Jay.

Schneider said Shell Factory employees worked nearly a week before the storm to capture the animals and place them in the building alongside the nature park.

“It was a matter of getting all the enclosures labelled and ready to go and coming up with a plan on who to capture first,” Schneider said. “You go from the easiest to the hardest.”

All were captured except for the largest animals such as the zebra and cows, all of which made it through the storm.

During the storm, the electricity went out and the generator kicked in. Unfortunately, it blew, creating a lot of stress and heat for some of the more delicate animals.

But it could have been a lot worse.

“A lot of these animals, especially birds, stress very easily. If the building had (gone) it would have been a whole lot worse,” Schneider said.

Nearly all the animals have been placed back in their habitats, while staff has worked on cleanup and getting ready for guests.

Rick Tupper, CFO and marketing director at the Shell Factory, said the nature park was set to reopen Tuesday.

And there was also some good news.

A baby kinkajou was born in the middle of the hurricane. Regardless of whether it’s a male or female, it will be call Irma, Schneider said.

The Nature Park itself sustained little damage except for the Macaw bridge and the new aviary, which will have to be totally rebuilt, Schneider said, adding the staff did a great job making sure the animals were as safe as possible and minimized the damage.

“We didn’t want to lose anybody, but they did a great job. Nobody was here when the generator went, but you can’t blame anyone for that,” Schneider said.

Tupper said the crew worked very hard to get the animals to safety, then back into their habitats.

“The animals were secure. Our employees took great care to get them to safety and busted their butts to get them back into their habitat,” Tupper said. “That’s how we go through this.”

The Shell Factory and Nature Park is at 2787 N Tamiami Trail, North Fort Myers,

It’s open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily.