Calgary Zoo officially back in business, 5 months after flood
Corinne Ton That, CTVNews.ca
Published Thursday, November 28, 2013 8:24AM EST
Last Updated Thursday, November 28, 2013 6:14PM EST
The doors of the Calgary Zoo officially reopened Thursday morning, five months after floodwaters devastated the island facility and affected 160 animals in June.
Only the north end of the zoo -- which includes the penguin plunge -- was spared from the flooding. Much of the facility is located on St. George’s Island on the Bow River, east of downtown Calgary, and approximately 90 per cent of the island was covered in water.
Officials scrambled to get the animals out of the zoo in just a few hours.
Calgary Zoo president and CEO Clement Lanthier told CTV News that he had to canoe to get to the stranded animals, which were later shipped off to different zoos across the country while repairs were underway.
When the attraction was shut down for cleanup in June, the zoo was losing about $160,000 a day, and officials estimated the facility suffered $50 million in damage.
The Calgary Zoo gears up for its full re-opening five months after a flood devastated the facility, Thursday, Nov. 28, 2013.
Despite the widespread damage and displacement, the facility was partially reopened to visitors just five weeks after the flood hit.
Like many zoo lovers, Jeanette Rasmussen and her daughter Calista were anxiously waiting for the facility to fully reopen.
“We’re going to be here on Thursday I guarantee it - where we exactly go - first I’m going to ask (Calista), my guess is probably the hippos or the lions,” Rasmussen told CTV News.
While the South America building had to be demolished, the rest of the zoo was brought back to its original pre-flooding state.
Darryl Dziadyk, director of facilities, grounds and environment, told CTV News that the zoo is currently working toward: “building a berm to protect the elevation of waters, to raising roads, to adding jersey barriers, which would in essence isolate the zoo island from flood waters.”
Despite setbacks, Lanthier told CTV News the facility is still going forward with its “master plan” – a $162 million investment that will go towards making the Calgary Zoo the leader in wildlife conservation.
With a report from CTV’s Kathy Le
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