Santa Barbara Zoo prepares to evacuate over Thomas Fire
© Getty Images

The Santa Barbara Zoo prepared to evacuate animals on Saturday after raging wildfires in Southern California put the zoo in a voluntary evacuation zone.

Zookeepers rushed to place animals in carriers in case the city issued a mandatory evacuation for the area, which is threatened by the Thomas Fire that is now sweeping through Santa Barbara County.

The zoo closed on Saturday due to the changing fire conditions and thick smoke in the area, and assured concerned citizens that it had emergency plans in place to get the animals to safety if the fire required a complete evacuation. 

"We DO NOT need public assistance. Do not come to the Zoo. Stay safe," the Zoo tweeted.

On Friday, the zoo warned residents to check the air quality near their homes and wear breathing masks outside.  

The massive Thomas Fire is now the third largest wildfire in state history, having destroyed nearly a quarter million acres in its path from Ventura County.

Over 95,000 people have already had to evacuate from Southern California due to the fast-moving fires.