Dominic Massa / Eyewitness News

NEW ORLEANS -- While keeping a watchful eye on the nearby Mississippi River, officials at the Audubon Zoo say they have no plans to evacuate animals in the event of rising water.

There are plans in place for emergencies such as a flood, according to spokeswoman Sarah Burnette. However, she said those plans do not currently include evacuating animals.

Burnette pointed to disaster plans put into effect during Hurricane Katrina.

'In the hurricane, we gave many of the animals 'open house' so they could decide whether to be in the exhibit areas or in their nighthouse areas,' she said in an email.

Burnette said animals such as tigers and lions are kept in their nighthouses, where they can't escape and threaten the nearby neighborhood. Most of those facilities also have elevated sleeping platforms, which would provide shelter in the unlikely event of rising water.

Burnette also pointed out that the zoo's location on the natural banks of the river means it rarely floods, but she said officials are monitoring the river situation and will respond as needed.

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