Brooklyn's Prospect Park Zoo set to reopen this month following storm damage

ByEyewitness News WABC logo
Tuesday, May 14, 2024
Prospect Park Zoo set to reopen in May following storm damage
Anthony Carlo has the latest on the reopening of the Prospect Park Zoo.

BROOKLYN (WABC) -- The Prospect Park Zoo in Brooklyn will reopen to the public this month after closing nearly eight months ago due to flooding from Tropical Storm Ophelia.

The 400 animals weren't harmed, but the floodwaters damaged the zoo's boilers, HVAC, and electrical systems.

"We had flooding in the outdoor habitats," said Craig Piper, Vice President of City Zoos for the Wildlife Conservation Society.

The repairs included measures to protect the animals and zoo equipment from future extreme weather.

The zoo recently posted a Mother's Day message to its patrons over the weekend featuring a baby baboon, Nyani, and her mother.

"We look forward to welcoming mothers and their families back to Prospect Park Zoo as soon as possible," the post on X (formerly Twitter) read.

Eyewitness News got a sneak peek at the zoo before it officially reopened and got to check out a few of the exhibits, like the red pandas.

"Well, we're enjoying this beautiful day on the Discovery Trail at Prospect Park Zoo, which was one of the most favorite exhibits for all of our guests to come here. Red pandas are rare. A special, you know, a unique animal, just a beautiful animal that's native to Asia, especially China. They're enjoying some bamboo as as we're talking today," Piper said. "But we have been so sad that we haven't been able to have guests joining us since last September when the flood hit."

They also showed Eyewitness News where the dingoes are housed.

"We were able to operate and take care of the animals during this entire time. No animals were impacted by the storm, thank goodness, but we were operating off of temporary generators that had to be fueled every day and that was not... we couldn't open at that time because they were all over the public areas," Piper said. "We're now back on grid power, which is a key thing to make it safe and stable, to be able to open the park. We've been doing repairs to all the exhibit buildings, so the good news is we're opening the entire zoo. All of our exhibits will be open."

The renovation and repairs to the Prospect Park Zoo are expected to cost $20 million. So far, they've spent a little more than a quarter of that.

"We've spent $6.5 million so far on the initial recovery. That gets us so we can reopen the public areas," Piper said. "But there's so much more still to be done."

FEMA has covered the repair costs so far, but the zoo is looking for fund flood mitigation so humans and their furry friends don't have to be separated again.

"We want people to come here and fall in love with animals, you know, the animals that are all around us because we know we'll protect the things that we care about," Piper said.

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