‘We have a long way to go:’ Central Florida Zoo receives $43K grant for Hurricane Ian relief

Flooding from hurricane caused 4-week closure at zoo

SANFORD, Fla. – Nearly two months after reopening, the Central Florida Zoo & Botanical Gardens has received a big dose of financial support to help with the recovery effort from Hurricane Ian.

Leaders said on Wednesday the zoo received a $43,000 grant from the Rex V. Stevens and Dulciza Stevens Fund at the Central Florida Foundation.

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CEO Richard Glover said the grant will help the zoo with repairs from Hurricane Ian and offset some operation costs.

“We are incredibly grateful to Central Florida Foundation and the Rex V. Stevens and Dulciza Stevens Fund for their generosity as we continue on the road to recovery after this devastating storm,” Glover said. “We have a long way to go, but it warms our hearts to see community helping community.”

The zoo sits at the intersection of the St. Johns River and Lake Monroe. Both grew to dangerous levels during and after Hurricane Ian, causing record flooding through the area and surrounding the zoo.

The flooding forced a four-week closure at the property and Glover said he estimated the damages and the cost to operate to be over $800,000.

“We expect long-term, we’ll have at least a few hundred-thousand-dollar loss that we took from this,” Glover said.

While the recovery has been difficult, Glover said support from the community is encouraging, especially as the zoo’s popular Asian Lantern Festival is underway.

“That’s what we want is for people to see you really won’t be missing anything if you come now.  Everything’s open.”

For details on how to support the Central Florida Zoo & Botanical Gardens, click here.

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About the Author:

Mark Lehman became a News 6 reporter in July 2014, but he's been a Central Florida journalist and part of the News 6 team for much longer. While most people are fast asleep in their bed, Mark starts his day overnight by searching for news on the streets of Central Florida.