Animals | Uplifting | Wildlife

Zookeeper Risks Death Protecting His Animals From Blazing Inferno

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This week a wildfire tore across Florida, forcing 7,000 residents to evacuate. Homes caught in the path of the blaze were destroyed, and when it kept burning for a second day the Ngala Wildlife Preserve in Tampa knew they had to evacuate as well.

But clearing out the zoo, which is home to more than 40 animals including camels, leopards and a giraffe, is not easy.

Donovan Smith, one of the zoo's owners, was busy overseeing the evacuation when the fire finally reached Ngala. While his life was threatened, he refused to run away and leave his animals behind, pulling off an animal rescue that's making headlines around the world.

Most of the animals were already safe by the time firefighters arrived, but a few were frightened by all the commotion and refused to get into their trailers.

A panther, a leopard and a 5,000 pound rhino were some of the holdouts that were too frightened to be evacuated.

For Smith, who had raised Walter since he was a baby, leaving the animal to fend for himself was not an option, so he faced the fire and risked death to protect him.

Click the next page to read how Smith survived the inferno!

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