Brooklyn, NY, May 14, 2024 – The Prospect Park Zoo is re-opening to the public on Saturday, May 25, after being temporarily closed for almost 8 months due to extensive flood damage to its facilities and infrastructure during the extreme rain from Tropical Storm Ophelia which hit New York City on Sept. 29, 2023.

The zoo will open for a special preview for Wildlife Conservation Society members on Friday, May 24; and will open to all on Saturday, May 25.

“We are very pleased to announce that we are re-opening on Friday, May 25 after being closed to the public for 239 days,” said Craig Piper, Vice President and Director of City Zoos for the Wildlife Conservation Society. “Our public spaces and exhibits will be fully re-opened even as we continue to repair infrastructure and plan for a full restoration.

“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 (DPR) and other city, state, and federal agencies on full restoration and mitigation to prevent flooding from future storm events. In addition to the storm in September 2023, Prospect Park Zoo suffered significant flood damage during storms Henri and Ida in recent years, and we expect these extreme weather patterns will continue in the future due to climate change.

“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.”

During the storm and temporary closure none of the more than 400 animals were affected. In addition, none of the 50 plus staff at the zoo were laid off. While the zoo was closed to the public, staff continued to take care of the animals and facility. WCS staff from the Bronx Zoo, Queens Zoo, Central Park Zoo and New York Aquarium have assisted the Prospect Park Zoo team throughout the recovery.

When the park re-opens, zoo guests will 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 closure on Oct. 18, 2023.

The 12-acre zoo is fully back on the electrical grid and the primary electrical room has been relocated from a basement to ground level. Emergency generators and fuel tanks employed since the storm have been removed from public pathways. Necessary repairs to exhibit buildings will be completed by the time of the reopening. The zoo remains on a temporary boiler system for heating as a new location for boilers, previously in a basement, is determined.

Recovery costs to date are about $6.5 million. Full restoration costs, not including mitigation measures, are estimated to be more than $20 million. On January 31, 2024, President Biden issued a Federal Disaster Declaration for three counties including Brooklyn making FEMA recovery assistance funding available to Prospect Park Zoo and others who sustained storm damage.

The September 2023 storm, which deluged the Prospect Park Zoo with more than 7 inches of rain and run-off from surrounding streets, had major impact on boilers, HVAC, electrical, and aquatic life support and other systems which were located in building basements and sub-basements. These basements took on up to 25 feet of water at an unprecedented rate as storm sewers in the area reached full capacity. Throughout the flooding event, zoo staff were able to provide uninterrupted care for all the animals.

Previous statements released on the temporary closure at Prospect Park Zoo due to Sept. 29, 2023 flooding in Brooklyn:
Oct. 14 2023 Update
January 31, 2023 Update