Flooding forces Zoo Miami to close; no reopening date set

AP News
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Posted: Dec 07, 2015 6:13 PM

MIAMI (AP) — Zoo Miami has closed because of flooding caused by days of heavy rain in South Florida.

The zoo closed at 11 a.m. Saturday. With more rain in the forecast, communication director Ron Magill says it's unclear if the zoo will reopen Tuesday.

Magill tells the Miami Herald (http://hrld.us/1OdW2tq ) that many pathways and walkways are underwater, making it unsafe for visitors and guests. He says the rain is so high in some areas that fish from a nearby lake are swimming under benches and trees.

Most of the zoo's 3,000 animals are safe from the flooding because they are in elevated exhibits. But there are safety concerns for some of the exhibits where animals interact with humans.

Magill said the lions are kept in an area separated by moats but when the water level rises, a lion can potentially swim across the moat and climb the wall.

"With a high water level, there is no longer a barrier," he said. "In reality, most animals can swim."

Chimpanzees and other primates can't swim. Their enclosures have a net to catch them if they fall, but the rainwater is a few feet above the net, so Magill said drowning is a concern.

"It is just a bad situation right now," he said.

Meteorologist David Ross of the National Weather Service says the area should dry out as the week goes on.

Miami Executive Airport, which is near the zoo, has logged more than 13 inches of rain already this month.

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Information from: The Miami Herald, http://www.herald.com