Prospect Park Zoo to reopen Memorial Day weekend after 8-month closure

May 16, 2024

Photo courtesy of WCS’s Prospect Park Zoo

After being closed for nearly eight months due to flood damage, the Prospect Park Zoo will reopen this month. The Wildlife Conservation Society on Tuesday announced the Brooklyn zoo will open on Saturday, May 25 following $6.5 million in repairs needed after Tropical Storm Ophelia in September 2023. The storm dumped over 7 inches of rainfall on the zoo and caused major issues for its boilers, HVAC, electrical, and other systems.

California Sea Lions. Credit: WCS’s Prospect Park Zoo

While the zoo is now in working order, full repairs are not complete. The full restoration costs, including protections against future storm events, are expected to cost $20 million.

“While this reopening of Prospect Park Zoo is a major milestone, we have a long way to go before the zoo is fully restored. We continue to work with the NYC Department of Parks and Recreation and other city, state, and federal agencies on full restoration and mitigation to prevent flooding from future storm events,” Craig Piper, vice president and director of city zoos for the Wildlife Conservation Society, said.

“Throughout our temporary closure, many New Yorkers shared how important this beloved zoo is to the Brooklyn community and to all throughout the city. We look forward to welcoming guests again to Prospect Park Zoo.”

On September 29, 2023, the city experienced as much as 8.65 inches of rainfall during a 24-hour period due to Tropical Storm Ophelia. The state and city declared a state of emergency, and subway lines were shut down, streets flooded, and homes damaged.

None of the zoo’s more than 400 animals were harmed during September’s storm and no staff was laid off. During the temporary closure, workers continued to care for the zoo’s inhabitants and the facility, with help from WCS staff from the Bronx Zoo, Queens Zoo, Central Park Zoo, and New York Aquarium.

According to WCS, the Prospect Park Zoo’s basements flooded with 25 feet of water as sewer systems reached capacity, damaging its electrical, HVAC, and boiler systems. The zoo is currently running on a temporary boiler system for heating while a location for the new boilers is determined.

Infant Hamadryas baboon and mother. Credit: WCS’s Prospect Park Zoo

When it reopens, visitors will be delighted to find some new animals, including a pair of southern pudu, one of the world’s smallest species of deer, and a female Hamadryas baboon born during the zoo’s closure on October 18.

The zoo will open for a special preview, exclusively for Wildlife Conservation Society members, on Friday, May 24, and fully reopen to the public on Saturday, May 25. Admission costs $9.95 for adults, $6.95 for children, and $7.95 for seniors. Reserve a spot here.

“I am incredibly excited for the reopening of the Prospect Park Zoo, just eight months after the devastating flooding last September,” NYC Parks Commissioner Sue Donoghue said. “The restoration taking place here is incredible to see, and we commend the Prospect Park Zoo for their inspiring effort and investment in long-term solutions to keep this historic attraction open to the public in the face of such a challenge. “

“This Brooklyn landmark has served as a bastion of conservation and education, while providing enjoyment to visitors for many decades. We can’t wait to see children and adults back in the Zoo, enjoying one of New York City’s true treasures.”


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