TAMPA, Fla. (NBC News Channel/WFLA) – The Central Florida Zoo reopened Wednesday after flooding from Hurricane Ian caused it to shut down.
After four weeks of being closed due to preparations before the storm and then the flooding, people can now safely drive into zoo property.
Zoo staff is happy to reopen and the animals are yearning for attention.
“Just to be able to see people again, do what we love, to share with people about animals and conservation, it’s been hard to do that the past four weeks, only on social media,” said Richard Glover, CEO of the Central Florida Zoo.
The zoo dealt with around $300,000 in damages on top of day-to-day expenses without ticket sales.
“It costs us over $17,000 a day just to have everything running, the people here and the animals taken care of. It’s not cheap to feed these type of animals,” said Glover.
Zoo staff hopes FEMA can eventually reimburse repairs and the Small Business Administration may help with a short term loan.
“Animals are all safe, staff is all safe, it’s money and money can be made later,” said Glover.
The zoo dried out just in time to set up for the annual Asian Lantern Festival, a major event at the zoo.