Saturday, September 30, 2023
In the midst of severe flooding in New York City on Friday, a female sea lion briefly escaped from her enclosure in New York’s Central Park Zoo as heavy rain caused her pool to flood.
Jim Breheny, executive vice president of the Wildlife Conservation Society’s Zoos and Aquarium, revealed in a statement that the sea lion managed to swim out of the flooded pool and roam throughout the surrounding area before returning to her enclosure.
Zoo staff “monitored” the marine mammal's unexpected adventure as they waited for her to swim back to her enclosure. The statement also stated that water levels in the sea lions' pool have decreased, and all animals are now in their designated exhibits.
“No staff or visitors were in danger and the sea lion remained inside the zoo, never breaching the zoo’s secondary perimeter,” Breheny said.
Central Park Zoo is one of the world’s major network of urban wildlife parks, including the Bronx Zoo, Queens Zoo, Prospect Park Zoo and New York Aquarium, CNN reported.
Following the life-threatening flash floods, the Wildlife Conservation Society closed all five facilities on Friday morning.
Schools, subways, streets, and even basements were flooded as a result of Friday's record-setting rain, triggering a state of emergency in New York.
“We had closed our four zoos and aquarium this morning so staff could focus on the animals and our facilities during the storm,” Breheny said.
“Animal care staff will continue to monitor the situation throughout the duration of the weather event,” he said.
According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), California sea lions, including those kept at the Central Park Zoo, are endemic to the West Coast.
The Marine Mammal Protection Act provides protection for the species. According to NOAA, female sea lions can grow to be up to 6 feet long and 240 pounds in weight as adults.