What's been happening with animals in Florida during Hurricane Ian?

What's been happening with animals in Florida during Hurricane Ian?

The zookeepers were deliberate, wrapping her head in a blanket. One clenched shut her massive beak, another secured her slender legs, and a third gripped around her folded wings as they guided her to a cart.

Odette the shoebill stork would be safe from the coming storm.

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The arrival of Hurricane Ian didn't just displace thousands of people in Florida. The bruising winds and surging waters also dislodged animal residents. Here's what happened to both wild and captive creatures across the peninsula.

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- Was the 'street shark' in that viral video real?

Images purporting to show marine life swimming through cities during storms are common online hoaxes.

But a viral video of a finned creature - perhaps a shark - during Hurricane Ian appears to be the real deal.

A local real estate developer named Dominic Cameratta filmed a large fish flopping around from his back patio Wednesday morning near Hendry Creek, according to the Associated Press.

"I didn't know what it was - it just looked like a fish or something," he told the news wire. "I zoomed in, and all my friends are like, 'It's like a shark, man!' " The AP confirmed the date the video was recorded with the original clip's metadata.

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- What did Florida zoos do to protect their animals?

As the storm approached this week, spoonbills and cranes in addition to Odette were gathered from free-flight aviaries at ZooTampa at Lowry Park. Anoas, a type of diminutive water buffalo, were loaded into a trailer towed by a John Deere tractor. Critically endangered red wolves - fewer than 300 still exist - were hauled onto a box truck to be brought indoors.

"Obviously, living in Florida, hurricanes are something we have to be prepared for," said Chris Massaro, ZooTampa's senior vice president of zoological operations, noting that zoos write detailed plans to deal with disaster.

Inland at the Central Florida Zoo and Botanical Gardens near Orlando, zookeepers made sure rare Florida black bears, leopards and PJ the greater one-horned rhinoceros were bunkered safely in barns.

Meanwhile, macaws, hornbills and hawks were brought into the zoo's ballroom, with handlers on hand to ride out the storm. Two bald eagles and a caracara were stored in the facility's bathroom. During the commotion, birds of prey were draped with sheets.

"It just helps keep them quiet and relaxed," zoo director Stephanie Williams said.

All of the zoo's animals were accounted for, both Williams and Massaro said.

That isn't the case after every hurricane. When Hurricane Andrew smashed Miami in 1992, locals reported unusual birds, deer and even an African lion wandering South Florida, forcing officials to go on patrol to round up the escapees.

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What's happened to the cute cat rescued by that nice guy in Bonita Springs?

A video of Mike Ross, 29, saving a tabby stranded outside his parents' home went viral after his girlfriend posted it on Twitter this week.

Floridians across the state have rescued stray animals during hurricanes over the years, and the scene of Ross gently plucking the cat from atop an air conditioning unit resonated with animal lovers across the country.

For now, Ross and his family are sheltering the cat, and they plan to keep it if they cannot find its owners.

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