Nearly a month after closing for Hurricane Ian, the Central Florida Zoo & Botanical Gardens reopened to welcome guests back. The Zoo resumed normal operations on Wednesday, October 26th after being closed four weeks due to the impact of Hurricane Ian.
All of the Zoo’s animal residents remained safe throughout the storm and its aftermath – and the Zoo says they are eager to see friendly guest faces again.
“A month ago, we never imagined we’d be in this situation,” said Zoo CEO Richard E. Glover, Jr. “I am incredibly thankful for our team and community for all they’ve done to help us get to this point, and we can’t wait to see our guests again. A special thanks goes out to Seminole County, SunRail, and Wharton-Smith, Inc. for their help during this time. Even so, there’s a long road ahead of us before we can say we’ve fully recovered from the effects of this devastating storm.”
The Zoo closed September 28th in preparation for Hurricane Ian and remained closed afterward for cleanup. The St. Johns River and Lake Monroe flooding followed, rendering the Zoo’s only entrance road impassable.
While the Zoo’s Animal Care team kept all of the animal residents safe throughout the closure, those circumstances prevented the Seminole County attraction from reopening quickly after the storm.
While damages for the Zoo are still being tallied, Glover estimates damages and the cost to operate the Zoo throughout its four-week closure will exceed $800,000. The Wayne M. Densch Discovery Center, the Zoo’s main meeting building, suffered flooding damage and will remain closed likely for a month or more. The bear exhibit and boardwalk will also remain closed for cleanup and repairs temporarily. Nearly all other exhibits and attractions will be open.
Glover emphasized that all of the Zoo’s animal residents remained safe throughout the storm and its aftermath—and that they’re eager to see friendly guest faces again.
The Central Florida Zoo & Botanical Gardens is home to over 300 animals in Sanford, Florida. As a not-for-profit organization, it is a leader in conservation, providing experiences that excite and inspire adults and children to learn and act on behalf of wildlife.
The Zoo will welcome guests back for its first weekend in a big way with Zoo Boo Bash, presented by Orlando Health, on Oct. 29th and 30th. Those who wish to donate to help with recovery efforts also can learn more here.