New Alabama Gulf Coast Zoo weathers first tropical system in new location

Baldwin County

GULF SHORES, Ala. (WKRG) — The “Little Zoo that Could” used to have big problems with flooding. This weekend, the Alabama Gulf Coast Zoo got its first taste of tropical weather at its new location.

With just three palm trees knocked down, and just one branch down, the little zoo that could had little problem weathering this storm. Each rain event gives them more ideas about how to get things cleaned up quickly.

“We have a few ideas of how we want to retrofit or change a few other things, so we’re learning a lot every time we get torrential downpour around here,” said zoo curator Cyndi Johnson. Problems that used to plague the zoo, like flooding, are a lot more manageable in this new spot.

“It makes so much difference just to be a little further north and higher elevation, the old zoo would have flooded and we would have probably had a late opening today trying to clean up from the storm,” said Zoo CFO Susan Stevenson. The zoo just opened in its new location days before pandemic restrictions kept it closed again for weeks. It’s old home further south was frequently plagued by flooding.

“The code 30 years ago was different than today, it was kind of built on a wetland and it was built very low so as the property around us grew up it kind of created a bowl, we were the bowl,” said Cyndi Johnson. The new zoo’s drainage system and culverts appeared to help the water move out quickly and as designed so they could open on time Monday. Despite Tropical Storm Cristobal moving through Sunday the zoo was open and had 20 visitors.

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