COLORADO SPRINGS – A busy Colorado zoo was closed Tuesday as officials assessed damage from a severe hailstorm that sent five people to the hospital and killed two zoo birds.
The Cheyenne Mountain Zoo suffered extensive property damage in Monday afternoon’s short but intense storm. The storm with baseball-sized hail hit as about 3,400 people were at the zoo southwest of downtown Colorado Springs and cars in its parking lot were pummeled by the hail.
Besides those taken to the hospital, another nine people were treated at the scene, the Colorado Springs Fire Department said.
Jenny Koch, the zoo’s marketing director, said a vulture and a duck were killed by the hail. A second vulture was also injured by hail and was being cared for in a veterinary hospital.
None of the children attending zoo camp were injured.
The National Weather Service said hail the size of baseballs was reported at the zoo and softball-size hail was reported in the neighboring city of Security.
The storm knocked out power to nearly 2,000 customers and heavy rain and debris forced the closure of U.S. Highway 24 west of the resort town of Manitou Springs, The Colorado Springs Gazette reported.
The Broadmoor Hotel and resort also was pounded by hail, and staff members were assessing damage.
“It was a significant storm,” said Barry Brown, the hotel’s vice president of sales and marketing.
Hail also postponed the planned start of the school year in the Hanover area on the plains southeast of Colorado Springs so officials could survey the damage.