Miami's horrendous weather put a damper on many outdoor Art Basel activities, with heavy hitters like Damien Hirst canceling dinners and shows at the last minute because of Mother Nature. Art Basel wasn't the only casualty of the weather, however.
Zoo Miami announced its closure due to flooding. Heavy rains prompted the park to close at noon Saturday. The zoo was closed all day Sunday and remains closed today, with a notice on its website stating, "Due to inclement weather and some flooding, the Zoo will be closed today December 7th. We apologize for the inconvenience."
Zoo Miami's communications director/goodwill ambassador, Ron Magill, told CBS4 that nearly 11 inches had fallen within 24 hours. West Kendall-Tamiami Airport reported 8.82 inches of rain Saturday and .10 inches Sunday, with a total of 13.37 inches of rain so far in December.
This being a zoo, there are additional hazards to the usual inconvenience of pedestrian walkways flooded and restaurants filled with water. There's also the real possibility of loose animals. According to Magill, "There's potential for the zoo's biggest and most dangerous residents to cross flooded moats and escape. Since our exhibit is primarily designed in moats, these moats filled up with water, and the water level got so high that animals that are potentially dangerous — whether it be big cats, bears, things like that — could swim across the moat and get out on the other side, so there is a huge public safety issue there."
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The zoo's most famous human also said the rising water table poses an additional threat to some other permanent residents. "On the flip side, we have animals like antelopes, giraffes, animals like that, that have normal dry moats. Those moats also filled up with water, and these are animals that, if they fell in the moats, could potentially drown, so it’s a big threat to those animals." The Weather Channel, which calls this the wettest December in Miami since 1929, has reported that roads leading to Zoo Miami were "nearly impassable" Saturday. Little River Cooperative in Miami also experienced severe flooding over the weekend.
On its Facebook page, Zoo Miami posted several pictures of the flooding, along with the news that the zoo will remain closed until further notice for the safety of guests and animals. With rain in the forecast through at least Wednesday, it's uncertain if the park will open anytime this week.
The flooding and subsequent closure hit the zoo during one of its busiest times of the year. According to a 2013 annual report, the zoo relies heavily on dollars generated by food and gift sales, animal feedings, and revenue from facility rentals for holiday parties, weddings, and other events.