The epic storm that blew through North Texas on May 11 hit an animal sanctuary in Murchison, 70 miles southeast of Dallas, which suffered damage from high winds and flooding.
The Cleveland Amory Black Beauty Ranch was hit by the same storm that caused devastation to the town of Van, where a tornado injured more than 26 people, killing at least five and destroying dozens of homes. About 30 percent of the town suffered some kind of damage.
Black Beauty Ranch is about 10 miles south of Van. The sanctuary sustained major property losses, including damage to fences, roads, pastures and a few of their buildings. But no staffers or animals were lost or harmed, according to spokeswoman Samantha Miller.
"Our staff was on the ground right after the event and shifted all the affected animals out of damaged pastures, including swimming eight very scared donkeys to higher ground when the bridge they took refuge on was engulfed in water," Miller says. "Needless to say, they were very excited to be reunited with the herd."
Black Beauty Ranch is named for author and TV personality Cleveland Amory, who founded the facility in 1979; he died in 1998. The 1,437-acre ranch is home to more than 1,000 animals, rescued from slaughterhouses, research laboratories, circuses and roadside zoos, including bison, cattle, horses, antelopes, apes, camels and llamas.
The donkeys were the only ones who required rescuing, according to Ben Callison, the director.
"We had to shift animals to other pastures and we had to move all of our 'dangerous wild animals' into a secure building that is tornado resistant – those are the ones we were most concerned about," Callison says. "Horses, donkeys and bison naturally move to higher ground, they know what to do. And we have enough space that they can usually get away from disaster. The donkeys unfortunately moved to a bridge that was subsequently flooded."
The facility is welcoming donations to help rebuild and continue its mission of providing food, veterinary services, staff care and all the operating costs associated with caring for the animals. The donation site is here.