Nearly a month after closing for Hurricane Ian, the Central Florida Zoo & Botanical Gardens is ready to welcome guests.
The Zoo will resume normal operations at 9 a.m. Wednesday, October 26.
The Zoo closed Sept. 28 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.
“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.”
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 Zoo will welcome guests back for its first weekend in a big way with Zoo Boo Bash, presented by Orlando Health, on Oct. 29 and 30.
Those who wish to donate to help with recovery efforts can visit www.centralfloridazoo.org/get-involved/hurricane-ian/.