Update on Jan. 31, 2024 News Release on Prospect Park Zoo: The Biden Administration on Jan. 31, 2024, approved a New York Disaster Declaration and ordered federal assistance for local recovery efforts in the areas affected by the severe storms and flooding in late September, 2023. This funding follows a request in November, 2023, from NY State Governor Kathy Hochul to the federal government requesting this assistance. Support for Prospect Park Zoo restoration was included in the governor’s request.

NEW YORK, (January 31, 2024) --- Steps to reopen Prospect Park Zoo in Brooklyn since its facilities were severely damaged during the extreme rain which hit New York City on September 29, 2023, are well underway. 

Said Craig Piper, Vice President of City Zoos for the Wildlife Conservation Society: “We do not have a firm reopening date for Prospect Park Zoo, but we are making progress with restoration of our infrastructure. We’re specifically focused on getting the park back on permanent electrical power which is an important first step. The animals, which were not affected by the storm, continue to do well and our staff continues to care for the animals and the campus as always.

“We are issuing this update to assure the community we are moving forward with reopening. We are working with our partners in the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation and New York State Governor Kathy Hochul’s office to secure the federal funding for the restoration.”

Governor Hochul submitted a request for a Major Disaster Declaration from President Biden on November 29, 2023, to support ongoing recovery in areas impacted by the September storm event including Brooklyn. If approved, federal funding would be made available to support the zoo’s restoration as well as to develop mitigation strategies to prevent damage in future storm events.

Said Piper: “We know that families and all our zoo guests have been missing visits to Prospect Park Zoo. We appreciate all the messages of support we’ve received and look forward to welcoming everyone back to the zoo as soon as possible.”

Prospect Park Zoo has been temporarily closed since a September 2023 storm deluged the zoo with more than 7 inches of rain and run-off from surrounding streets. Overall, the city of New York experienced a month’s worth of rain in just a few hours. The flooding had a major impact on boilers, HVAC, electrical, and aquatic life support and other systems which are located in building basements and sub-basements. The basements took on up to 25 feet of water at an unprecedented rate as storm sewers in the area reached full capacity. 

A warming planet means that storms are becoming wetter and more destructive. As New York continues to experience escalating extreme weather events, efforts to repair and rebuild the zoo will focus on building resiliency to these impacts, in order to safeguard animals as well as the visitor experience. 

See original statement from WCS on the damage at Prospect Park Zoo HERE.