A ZOO remains closed after Storm Franklin “ravaged” the site, which houses more than 800 animals.

Drusillas Park, near Alfriston, has been forced to remain closed for a second day after suffering a total power outage. 

Fallen trees and debris littered the visitor attraction after Storm Eunice hit Sussex on Friday before Storm Franklin caused the longest power cut experienced at the zoo in the last few decades.

Keepers have been working around the clock to ensure backup generators have enough petrol to power heaters in animal enclosures.

The Argus: Drusillas Zoo closed after Storm Franklin ‘ravaged’ site Drusillas Zoo closed after Storm Franklin ‘ravaged’ site

Head keeper Gemma Romanis said in preparation for Storm Eunice, the team took a number of the animals inside to protect them.

She said a number of animals including lemurs and squirrel monkeys were able to be reintroduced to their enclosures on Sunday, before Storm Franklin hit.

“We’ve been multitasking, carrying tree trunks, building fences, you name it – there was so much to fix it became all hands on deck to try and get the park fit for public again,” she said.

“Just when we thought we’d got on top of it, the power cut hit on Monday morning and everyone had to dive in again.

“We aren’t able to heat all the zoo enclosures at once with the generators, so we had to plan some tactical animal move arounds to get those that need heat into the areas we could keep warm.”

The Argus: Drusillas Zoo closed after Storm Franklin ‘ravaged’ siteDrusillas Zoo closed after Storm Franklin ‘ravaged’ site

Gemma said they are most concerned about the reptiles, armadillos, anteaters and sloths – especially with an infant sloth just a few months old, who would be in “considerable danger” if she couldn’t keep warm.

“Warmth isn’t the only issue; our electric fences also went down, which creates a risk of escape – luckily our automatic backup batteries kicked in, but thorough checks are being carried out constantly,” she added.

“We’re pleased to report all our animals are safe and warm now.”

With more than 800 animals in residence, the priority for the zoo is to ensure the correct temperature and conditions are maintained for each of the exotic species and to limit stress or upset that could cause serious health concerns or potential loss of life. 

The Argus: Drusillas Zoo closed after Storm Franklin ‘ravaged’ site Drusillas Zoo closed after Storm Franklin ‘ravaged’ site

Managing Director Cassie Poland said UK Power Network has yet to visit the zoo to assess the fault.

She said there is uncertainty whether they will be able to open again before the school holiday finishes.

“This is absolutely devastating for us, and so many others in the area. Our priority is always the animals, and we are so lucky we have the team we do as they jump into action without hesitation in these situations,” she said.

“But beyond keeping the animals warm, we have fridges and freezers full of food, staff unable to work, no access to our booking systems or phone lines, and a huge number of people whose plans have been ruined and no answers to give them.”