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November 28, 2023

Flooding gives gives Central Park Zoo sea lion a brief free swim

Flooding gives gives Central Park Zoo sea lion a brief free swim

A Central Park Zoo sea lion named Sally had a bit of a field day thanks to the severe weather in New York. The mammal briefly escaped her enclosure after heavy rain caused her pool to flood.

The sea lion, who was seen swimming out of the flooded pool and roaming around the surrounding area Friday, eventually returned to her enclosure, which she shares with two other sea lions, according to a statement from Jim Breheny, executive vice president of the Wildlife Conservation Society’s Zoos and Aquarium.

Breheny said the female sea lion didn’t swim too far from her habitat and never left the sight of zoo personnel.

“Zoo staff monitored the sea lion as she explored the area before returning to the familiar surroundings of the pool and the company of the other two sea lions,” said Breheny.

The Central Park Zoo was closed on Sept. 26 due to the heavy rain and flooding. Breheny said that after the water levels receded, the sea lions were once again contained inside their habitat.

Sally the sea lion.@bronx_supremecy / Via TikTok

“No staff or visitors were in danger and the sea lion remained inside the zoo, never breaching the zoo’s secondary perimeter,” Breheny said.

By Friday evening more than 8 inches of rain had fallen at JFK airport, according to the National Weather Service, leading to flash flooding throughout the New York City area. Central Park saw more than 5 inches of rain. No deaths were reported.

Central Park Zoo, a 6.5-acre zoo situated at the southeast corner of Central Park, was one of the four zoos and one aquarium that closed because of the severe weather. Breheny said the Bronx Zoo, Queens Zoo, Prospect Park Zoo and New York Aquarium were also closed “so staff could focus on the animals and our facilities during the storm.”

“Animal care staff will continue to monitor the situation throughout the duration of the weather event,” he added.

The New York Police Department Central Park Precinct said in a Sept. 29 update that the Central Park Zoo “remains closed due to the heavy rain & flooding.” They have yet to give an update on when it will officially reopen.

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