Exotic Birds Survive Hurricane INIKI


I The Warning

t was 5:30 A.M. September 11th on the third day of shooting on the set of Steven Spielberg's Jurassic Park. As the first Civil Defense sirens sounded throughout the island everyone knew this was for real.

Prop master Jerry Moss gave the signal to break set. Crews scrambled at three locations, including one very remote accessible only by helicopter. I released 70 doves and set out to finish securing my own bird collection with my wife Mary at home and then to the Zoo to do the same in the seven or so hours we had remaining before this Hurricane "Iniki" would collide with our little island of Kaua'i.

Most Hawaiian hurricanes parallel the island chain coming up from the south where they almost always head directly for the big island before they veer to pass Oahu and Maui but as this one approached Kaua'i it suddenly turned sharply right and headed directly for the island. Although we had been preparing for several days, it was only a few hours away so we had to make the best possible use of the time


we had remaining.

Preparing The Bird Farm

Mary and I had been up all night building and organizing crates and securing materials and holding area for the 200 or so birds on our farm. Our operation would be based out of a 600 square foot hurricane resistant building bolted to a cement slab with double-truss roof and hurricane clips created for this purpose.

We decided we would wait until this time to catch up the collection. We managed to get every bird contained without incident and positioned each crate the safest way we could. This was stressful for the birds that had not been caught-up since the last hurricane 10 years ago.

It was 9:00 A.M. now though the sky was very dark and the atmosphere was


completely still. I had to leave for the Kaua'i Lagoons Zoological Gardens (where I served as zoological director) while Mary continued to work steadily throughout the morning in the brooder, incubator room, house, and bird holding building.

Kaua'i Lagoons Zoo

The National Guard was already attempting to control the streets. I had to make sure if I went through they would let me back through to get home. A military officer said I had three hours to do what I had to do. I had eight miles to go, when I finally arrived, keepers knew the job we where about to face was going to be delicate, but also must be done quickly. The animal inventory is exhibited on seven islands within a SO-acre lagoon so all of our work would be done by boat.

During the architectural planning of the Zoo in 1986 I designed underground shelters below the water surface with independent water and lighting systems on each island. In very natural settings, compatible animal and bird species roam freely as visitors cruise the mile of waterways in handcrafted Italian Venetian launches, for a 45-minute narrated tour. There are some 260 Zoo animals and birds throughout as well as 10 miles of carriage and footpaths.

We shifted all the animals we could into their holding areas, transported two of our four llamas who would ride the boat from their exhibit to our stables where I am also responsible for forty head of Clydesdale, Belgian and


Percheron draft horses.

We used the Llama shelter on isle « 6 to contain our group of 40 Chilean Flamingos. Kangaroos were locked underground, Wallabys were caught up and stored in my office that has block wall construction. I felt gazelles were better off out in their 1-acre exhibit, also shared by Grant's Zebra, Ostriches, and Tortoises. The Colobus monkey group couldn't be captured or shifted, they ultimately would end up riding out the storm in the crowns .of seventy-foot coconut palms. Waterfowl would have to fend for itself.

Between my bird farm and the Zoo we have 30 cranes of four species. Many were caught up and at least three pair were on eggs including a pair of Sarus - hopefully this would keep them on the ground.