Question remains whether monkey house can be saved [video]

One week after a 36,000-pound oak tree fell on top of the monkey house at the Brandywine Zoo, it’s still unclear whether the building is a total loss.

Contractors have removed the tree from the building, but Brandywine Zoo Director Gene Peacock says a few more things need to happen over the next couple of weeks before an assessment can be made on the building’s integrity.

“We’re waiting on some environmental assessments to be done to get to the point where a company can come in and do some shoring up. We have a wall that is very damaged and at risk of falling and we don’t want any of it to fall on anybody. So we’re waiting on those guys to get that safe and then at that time we’ll have a structural engineer come in, and they will look at the extent of the damage, what is repairable, what is salvageable and what will have to go,” Peacock said. 

No monkeys or people were hurt when the tree fell last Friday, and Peacock said the monkeys are healthy and doing well at the Philadelphia Zoo and the Elmwood Park Zoo in Norristown, Pa., where they’re being housed in the interim. Peacock is working on a plan to get the monkeys back to the Brandywine Zoo by the end of the summer.

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Outpouring of community support

After seeing the damage with his own eyes, 10-year-old Jared DeStafney of North Wilmington said he and his friend Ryder Hickey decided to sell lemonade to raise money for repairs.

“I had to go to a birthday party and then I told them about that, that I’m gonna do a lemonade stand for it,” DeStafney said. “They only thought that I was going to raise $20, $25, but now I’m up to $300.”

A big fan of the monkey house, but not of its odor, DeStafney gave the Brandywine Zoo all of his earnings Friday.

“I’ve been inspired with the way the community’s pulled together,” Peacock said, adding he’s amazed by the outpouring of support from the community.

In the meantime, the Delaware Zoological Society, the zoo’s governing board, has set up a zoo improvement fund. Board chair Bill Montgomery says checks made payable to the Delaware Zoological Society with “monkey house” written on the memo line will only be used toward repairs. 

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