Prospect Park Zoo to reopen for first time since September

Federal funds will be covering the estimated $20 million the zoo says it will cost to fix everything.

Greg Thompson

May 14, 2024, 10:30 PM

Updated 7 days ago

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The Prospect Park Zoo announced that it will reopen to Wildlife Conservation Society members on Friday, May 24 and to the general public on Saturday May 25 - 239 days after it was forced to close.
Officials say that flooding from Tropical Storm Ophelia left 25 feet of water in the basements and sub-basements of the zoo's buildings, which caused massive damage to its electric, boiler and HVAC systems.
According to Wildlife Conservation Society vice president and City Zoos director Craig Piper, they "weren't sure initially how long it would take. The key part was when could we get back on grid power."
Craig Gibbs, the zoo's assistant director and curator of animals, say he remembers that to try to keep things afloat, they had as many as "12 generators going, but those generators are going off and on, so when one generator would go out, we were running extension cords."
Federal funds will be covering the estimated $20 million the zoo says it will cost to fix everything.
Officials also tell News 12 that not a single animal was lost during or after the floods, meaning they plan to reopen every public exhibit they have next week, along with a few new ones.
"We saw the same thing with COVID, is that the animals really do miss people," Gibbs says. "When we have people here, it's going to be a real nice thing, because these guys have been waiting for a while."
Guests may notice some changes though, including a temporary boiler. Zoo officials say things will be like that for a few years as they try to not just rebuild, but also rebuild in a way with less risk of damage the next time flooding happens.
Piper admits that "there will be some things that aren't perfect because it is a long-term restoration project, there will be construction here for a number of years, there will be some inconveniences, so, having some patience with those things as they come along will be important for guests."
Officials say they expect to be able to stay open through all of the work and are planning to keep hours and admission fees the same as they were before the closure.


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