COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (CBS4)– The Cheyenne Mountain Zoo began cleaning up and assessing damage after Monday afternoon’s devastating hail storm that left more than a dozen people injured and killed two animals. The zoo will remain closed on Wednesday.
Baseball-sized hail pummeled Southern Colorado on Monday afternoon that left more than 200 vehicles damaged. There were more than 3,400 visitors at the zoo when the storm hit that sent people running for cover.
“It became a dangerous situation for both guests, staff and also our animals,” said Jenny Koch, a spokesperson for the zoo.
About 14 guests were hurt in the storm and five of them were taken to the hospital. Three employees of the zoo were injured in the storm. The zoo was closed on Tuesday and may be closed for several days.
Two animals at the zoo were killed in the storm, a 4-year-old Muscovy duck named Daisy and a 13-year-old cape vulture named Motswari. Sixteen other animals were injured in the storm.
PHOTO GALLERY: Hail Storm Slams Into Colorado Springs Area
“This is not what we expected on our second day of vacation,” said Tyler Hobson, who was visiting with her family from Austin, Texas.
The Hobsons joined dozens of others taking shelter in the reptile exhibit, a large multi-room building at the park.
“Next thing you know, it’s pelting down this hail. Me and my husband were like, ‘This is really happening, we’ve got to get our kids safe.’ Glass was flying everywhere. All of us got cut,” Hobson said.
“We started hearing it on the roof and looked up, and the shatter-proof glass — I thought, ‘Oh, that’s good,’ but it still breaks,” laughed husband Joshua Hobson.
The zoo will be closed on Tuesday while staff assesses the damage and cleans up an extensive amount of debris from the storm.
There are widespread reports of damage to soldiers’ vehicles at Fort Carson as the hail fell.
The severe weather moved through southern Colorado where a severe thunderstorm warning was in effect for hours on Monday afternoon. Storm pelted areas from Manitou Springs, the Broadmoor, down into Security and Widefield with quarter to baseball size hail. The storm also produced enough flooding rains to strand cars near the Broadmoor.
The National Weather Service said hail the size of baseballs was reported at the zoo and softball-sized hail was reported in the neighboring city of Security.
Zoo guests said they huddled in whatever space they could find, trying to avoid flying glass and debris.
“Not only were [the hailstones] so large, but the force — the glass would hit the ground and it was schrapnel,” Joshua Hobson said.
“We had gathered into the center of the room because on each side was glass ceiling and it was crashing on floor and hail was everywhere. Had to hunker down and get over our kids. They were terrified, crying and screaming,” Tyler Hobson said.