Archive for Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Zoo still recovering from flooding

June 27, 2007


— The Hutchinson Zoo is still trying to recover from flooding in May and is unlikely to officially reopen to the public by Sunday, zoo officials said.

The zoo suffered an estimated $50,000 in damage when May 23 rains hit its lagoon, putting exhibits and walkways under water.

Because water from the zoo and a city public works building drain into the lagoon, water levels have gone down only about a foot in the last month.

The zoo has made small steps, such as opening the gift shop and putting its Prairie Thunder Zoo Train back in service.

"We've been almost at a standstill for the last month waiting for the water to go down," said zoo Director Charlotte Poepperling. "It just started receding enough to allow us to start doing some things in the last week."

Poepperling said she can't predict when the zoo will reopen because many exhibits still have to be repaired.

Meanwhile, many zoo animals are living in temporary homes and animals needing rehabilitation live in kennels on wooden benches in the education center. The zoo's milking cow is living with feed grain because the granary still contains wet and rotting feed.

The makeshift living conditions have taken a toll on some animals, with pronghorn antelope being treated for abscesses in their feet, caused in part by the wet conditions. The buffalo's roaming area is only an island and zoo workers have to take them hay by boat.

The flooding also caused sadness at the zoo, when one of the mule deer twins born soon after the storm got loose from its pen, wandered into the water and drowned.

"That was hard for all of us to take," Poepperling said.


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