Hundreds of miles away from where Hurricane Ian first made landfall the Central Florida Zoo is still temporarily closed and waiting to overcome the aftermath of the hurricane. The Central Florida Zoo & Botanical Gardens will be the last zoo in Florida to reopen following the hurricane.

The cost is not the initial brute force of Ian, but rising local floodwaters that came days after the storm because of the torrential rain the hurricane brought. At its height, the zoo which sits close to the banks of the St. Johns River and Lake Monroe, had its entrance road 2 feet underwater. Zoo staff are still waiting for the water to go down so they can welcome guests.

The animals are safe. Each day a dedicated team of keepers travel into the zoo in big trucks to make sure the animals are well fed.

Just three years ago this small zoo in Sanford, Florida was brought to its knees by the pandemic. Now, it will be digging out again. The losses are substantial. There's been no revenue for three weeks and opening is not likely for at least another week. The revenue losses are in addition to extensive damage to some zoo buildings and still unknown cleanup costs.


Key points: 

-Local flooding from the St. Johns River and Lake Monroe have caused Central Florida Zoo to be closed for three weeks and counting.

-Closure showcases that impact from hurricanes go far beyond wind and storm surge. Flooding can be dangerous.

-The nonprofit zoo seeks hurricane relief donations to overcome extensive losses.


Background & B-Roll:

-Background: LINK

-B-Roll, visuals, interviews: LINK