Giraffes! Camels! Elephants! Co-creator Tim Minear dishes on the animals overrunning Hollywood Boulevard as the Fox drama preps its return Monday.

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We always knew things can get pretty wild on 9-1-1, but the season 5 premiere is literally a zoo.

EW has an exclusive first look at the opening sequence from the Fox emergency services drama, in which Captain Bobby (Peter Krause) and the 1-1-8 crew mosey down what appears to be a deserted, postapocalyptic Hollywood Boulevard, only to come face-to-face with a mob of emus, monkeys, a giraffe, and an elephant. Yes, you read that correctly.

"I've always had this image in my head of exotic animals on Hollywood Boulevard," says series co-creator Tim Minear of the chaotic first scene. "It was just the thing I always wanted to do. I wanted something striking. I wanted to come in on something where you're in the middle of this weird apocalypse and it feels like, 'How did we get here?!'"

9-1-1
Kenneth Choi, Ryan Guzman, Peter Krause, Aisha Hinds, and Oliver Stark in the season 5 premiere of '9-1-1'
| Credit: Jack Zeman /FOX

How indeed! Well, the premiere then flashes back to a series of ransomware attacks targeting Los Angeles that has sent the city into disarray, with cars piling up, air-traffic control losing, well, all control, and, presumably, the gates to the city's zoo flying wide open.

"Hey, after the last two years of reality, it just didn't seem that far-fetched," jokes Minear.

Due to Disney's strict rules about having animals on sets, the only real creatures in the sequence were the emus, the camels, and the vulture, while the giraffe, elephant, and monkeys were added with C.G. But the crew really did get to shut down Hollywood Boulevard to film the scene, meaning they could capture iconic landmarks like the Chinese Theater.

And don't expect this mayhem to all be resolved by episode's end. Warns Minear, "The Jurassic Park is even more Jurassic Park–y in episode 2!"

The co-creator adds how challenging it is to keep coming up with bigger and crazier storylines on a show that's seen a tsunami, a plane crash, and a dam break and flood the Hollywood Hills. "This ransomware thing was a little more amorphous, a little trickier to get my head around," he says. "But I'm very pleased with the way it turned out. I think it's relevant; it's a very modern fear that I think a lot of people have, and rightfully so because everything is plugged in. We're just so connected to our systems that when that stuff fails, the world gets plunged into the dark ages very quickly."

In addition to the literal darkness that accompanies the ransomware attack, Athena's (Angela Bassett) storyline gets grim pretty quickly with her attacker (guest star Noah Bean) from season 3 standing trial. "It really becomes an Athena thriller by episode 2," says Minear. "She has a nightmare in the first episode, and the next two episodes are about the nightmare becoming reality and how she has to face it head-on. Things become very personal by episode 3."

Athena's not the only one struggling to cope. Maddie's (Jennifer Love Hewitt) postpartum depression continues to worsen this season. "There's a big turn coming up with Maddie and that whole storyline, and it gets revealed by the end of episode 3," says Minear. "The first three episodes are a great thriller. [And] episode 4 is going to be incredible — really emotional and devastating in some ways."

But while we wait to be emotionally devastated, we can at least have a little fun at the zoo.

Watch the opening sequence and an additional exclusive 9-1-1 clip above and tune in to its season 5 premiere Monday at 8 p.m. ET/PT on Fox.

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