Large hail kills several animals at Colorado zoo and injures 14 people

Dangerous hail in Colorado

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. -- A powerful storm that pummeled a busy Colorado zoo with large hail on Monday injured 14 people and killed at least two animals, authorities said. About 3,400 people were at the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo in Colorado Springs at the time, and the zoo estimates that as many as 400 vehicles in the parking lot were damaged.

"It was hail the size I've never seen before," Jenny Koch, Cheyenne Mountain Zoo's marketing director, told The Denver Post. "Basically chunks of ice ... It's frightening."

The zoo's website says a vulture and a duck were killed by the hail. The Denver Post reports a second vulture also died.

CBS Denver reported that medical personnel set up a triage for visitors at the entrance to the zoo. Five people were taken to the hospital with traumatic injuries after the short but intense storm passed over, according to the Colorado Springs Fire Department. Another nine people were treated at the scene.

The Cheyenne Mountain Zoo evacuated people from the zoo and they were transported by bus to Cheyenne Mountain High School.

Video posted on Facebook showed large hail pelting the zoo while bears looked for cover.

NEW VIDEO: Bears ran for cover during today's insane hail storm at the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo. It's unclear if the bears were hurt, but a turkey vulture and a duck reportedly died. https://cbsloc.al/2vIgcMm 📹: Bill Watson

Posted by CBS Denver on Monday, August 6, 2018

The storm knocked out power to nearly 2,000 customers in the area, and heavy rain and debris forced the closure of U.S. Highway 24 west of Manitou Springs, The Colorado Springs Gazette reported.

Softball-sized hail was reported in the area, but it was smaller at the zoo, which will be closed Tuesday so employees can take care of injured animals and repair broken windows and skylights.

The Broadmoor Hotel and resort also was pounded by hail, and staff members were assessing the damage.

"It was a significant storm," said Barry Brown, the hotel's vice president of sales and marketing.

Forecasters warned that runoff from the rain could cause flooding of small creeks, roads, underpasses and low-lying areas as more storms develop along the Front Range on Monday night.