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A Local Zoo Was Devastated By A Tornado, And The Community's Response Has Been Awesome

04/10/2015 06:46 pm ET | Updated Apr 10, 2015
Summerfield Zoo Facebook

A community of volunteers is donating time, money and expertise to rebuild a small Illinois zoo that was devastated by a tornado on Thursday.

The Summerfield Zoo in Belvidere, Illinois, was hit hard by tornadoes that devastated northern parts of the state. The Chicago Tribune reports that two emus and a fawn were killed at the zoo, which is home to exotic animals like mountain lions, zebra, alligators and wallabies, along with more quotidian animals like horses and goats.

The winds also ripped up $200,000 in fencing and destroyed the animals' enclosures. All the animals escaped, but have since been found, the outlet reports.

Summerfield, which bills itself as the only zoo in northern Illinois, posted a call for help to Facebook on Friday.

Trying to answer you all as we can. No power or Internet. The damage is severe although doesn't look as bad because...

Supporters have been rallying online and in person to help rebuild. A GoFundMe page set up by a man who says he knows the zoo's proprietors has raised more than $50,000 in 24 hours. The campaign aims to raise all $200,000 needed to replace the zoo's fencing.

Locals have also been posting on Summerfield's Facebook page, offering supplies and labor.

"Heading over with generator, saws, hammers, all the fence staples Farm and Fleet had, and cordless nail gun and framing nails," one user wrote. Others without building expertise are volunteering to nurse baby animals or canvas contractors for donations.

Meanwhile, local animal sanctuaries have offered to host Summerfield's animals, and a local Olive Garden offered to feed the volunteers. Employee Krystle Testa told The Huffington Post that the restaurant dropped off spaghetti, salad and breadsticks. "We like to do that for our community," she said.

Zoo staff wrote on Facebook that they were overwhelmed by the support.

Thank you everyone for your support and help today! We had an amazing turnout of helpful volunteers and donations. We...

Summerfield staff said they would continue to update its Facebook page with needs and opportunities to help.

  • Philip Toscano/PA Wire
    A squirrel monkey gets weighed at the annual London Zoo weigh-in were animals are weighed and measured.
  • Philip Toscano/PA Wire
    Sid the red ruffed lemur gets weighed at the annual London Zoo weigh-in where animals are weighed and measured.
  • Philip Toscano/PA Wire
    A llama gets measured gets weighed at the annual London Zoo weigh-in where animals are weighed and measured.
  • Philip Toscano/PA Wire
    Kumbuka the silverback gorilla gets measured at the annual London Zoo weigh-in where animals are weighed and measured.
  • Philip Toscano/PA Wire
    A squirrel monkey looks into a camera lens at the annual London Zoo weigh-in where animals are weighed and measured.
  • Philip Toscano/PA Wire
    A squirrel monkey looks into a camera lens at the annual London Zoo weigh-in where animals are weighed and measured.
  • Philip Toscano/PA Wire
    Sid the red ruffed lemur gets weighed at the annual London Zoo weigh-in where animals are weighed and measured.
  • Philip Toscano/PA Wire
    A giant African land snail gets weighed at the annual London Zoo weigh-in where animals are weighed and measured.
  • Philip Toscano/PA Wire
    A mossy frog gets weighed at the annual London Zoo weigh-in where animals are weighed and measured.
  • Philip Toscano/PA Wire
    A mossy frog gets weighed at the annual London Zoo weigh-in where animals are weighed and measured.
  • Philip Toscano/PA Wire
    A young Philippine crocodile gets measured at the annual London Zoo weigh-in where animals are weighed and measured.
  • Philip Toscano/PA Wire
    A young Philippine crocodile gets weighed at the annual London Zoo weigh-in where animals are weighed and measured.
  • Philip Toscano/PA Wire
    A mossy frog gets weighed at the annual London Zoo weigh-in where animals are weighed and measured.
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