- Associated Press - Sunday, December 27, 2015

WAHPETON, N.D. (AP) - The Chahinkapa Zoo in Wahpeton is discussing how it will respond to the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s new regulations for levees and its impact on a proposed housing for white rhinoceros.

FEMA has continued to raise standards for levees since Hurricane Katrina wreaked havoc on the Gulf Coast in 2005. The agency’s current standards call for a “clear zone” of 15 feet on both sides of a levee.

Officials plan to continue clearing fencing and trees and relocate structures, including proposed housing for the white rhinoceros, near a levee that runs down the middle of the zoo. Public Works Director Dennis Miranowski told the Wahpeton Daily News (https://bit.ly/1Pk3PLp ) that the work likely will be done next summer because FEMA wants the modifications made by October.

“Rhinos are highly endangered, and Chahinkapa Zoo is a respected conservation facility,” zoo director Kathy Diekman said, adding that the zoo brings in 67,000 people annually.

The northern white rhinoceros, zoo curator Tom Schmaltz said, is down to its last four in the world and they are not expected to survive. But there is hope for the southern white rhinoceros and he said it’s the time for the zoo to act.

Should the rhinoceros be added to Chahinkapa’s collection of animals, it’s projected that attendance could rise to between 80,000 to 89,000 people per year.

The committee saw three estimates recently that included prospective costs for such tasks as walking path repairs and campground restructuring remain constant, but varied with the habitat for zebras.

As a result, Interstate Engineering of Wahpeton said probable costs could range from $2.3 million to $3.7 million. The Army Corps of Engineers or FEMA are not expected to provide funding.


Information from: Wahpeton Daily News, https://www.wahpetondailynews.com

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