For Researchers

Winter Storm Brings Out the Best in Staff from Department of Animal Resources and Yerkes Research Center

During last week's winter storm, staff from Emory's Department of Animal Resources (DAR) and Yerkes National Primate Research Center demonstrated their unwavering dedication to ensuring the well being of the animals in their care.

Thirteen Department of Animal Resources (DAR) employees remained on the Emory campus from the time the university closed at 1:00 pm on Tuesday, Jan. 28 through the close of business Thursday, Jan. 30.

"DAR took care of $12 million worth of animals and looked out for each other," said DAR director Michael Huerkamp. "In doing so, these employees also took care of their teammates in research and did their part to take care of Emory's $500M research portfolio. Just as importantly, we protected the public trust in Emory's reputation as a responsible steward of research animals." 

The employees slept for two nights in DAR offices and conference rooms. They received excellent support from the Emory Conference Center, where they ate some of their meals, and from staff who cooked and provided food and ensured that supplies of non-perishable, emergency food provisions were fully stocked. Those 13 employees were joined in animal and veterinary care efforts by others who braved the elements coming and going from home and swelling the ranks to 19 Wednesday and more than 30 on Thursday.

DAR's recovery efforts include stowing away emergency gear, laundering and stowing towels and sleeping bags, and replenishing food stores. Huerkamp has debriefed each of his 12 indefatigable staff and will be tweaking DAR's emergency preparedness plan and supplies based on their feedback, as well as reviewing DAR's tornado preparedness plan.

The weather also did not deter Yerkes personnel from putting the Center's more than 3,000 nonhuman primates and 10,000 rodents first.

At the main center, Yerkes Veterinary Resources and Animal Care employees remained on site from Tuesday through Thursday to ensure all animals were fed, treated as needed and observed per research protocols, as well as to ensure the animals' housing areas were cleaned.

Remaining overnight at the main center Tuesday were two veterinarians, one veterinary technician and 23 daytime Animal Care staff. An additional veterinarian came in Wednesday morning, and two of the night Animal Care technicians remained on site during the day Wednesday to ensure they would be available to help that evening. Remaining Wednesday night were two veterinarians, one veterinary technician and 21 daytime Animal Care staff. By Thursday, one more veterinarian and two additional veterinary technicians made it to work.

At the Field Station, all night technicians made it in Tuesday to care for the center's animals. The following day, 14 animal care employees were on site as well as three members of the veterinary staff and three members of the Colony Management staff. Several employees got stuck on their way to work, and two employees and one employee's husband volunteered to rescue them with 4-wheel drive trucks.

A majority of Animal Care staff, veterinarians, and Colony Management staff reported for work Wednesday, along with the contracted cleaning crew.

Yerkes Facilities Management employees were on site at both facilities. They concentrated on keeping all heating systems running and clearing pathways for animal care staff to get around buildings and helped keep the roads passable. At the Main Center, six people came in both Wednesday and Thursday, and three people stayed overnight. At the Field Station, three people came in both days.

Staff slept on air mattresses, cots and chairs in the Center's seminar rooms and locker rooms. Because of their dedication, all animals received food and care, operating systems remained in working order and no work is behind schedule.