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MIAMI (CBSMiami) – A soggy weekend has caused a major hit to Zoo Miami and children wanting to visit.

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Due to the high water levels created by record rainfall this past weekend, the zoo closed Saturday at noon and remained closed Sunday and Monday causing the zoo to lose thousands of dollars.

Zoo Miami’s Ron Magill said the rain not only flooded certain walkways, but also many of the moats the zoo uses as barriers between the animals and visitors.

“We had close to 11 inches of rainfall here within a 24-hour period. That rainfall elevated the water table.  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,” said Magill.


Rain has raised the level of the moat at the tiger exhibit at Zoo Miami. (Source: Zoo Miami)

Rain has raised the level of the moat at the tiger exhibit at Zoo Miami. (Source: Zoo Miami)

For animals such as antelope and other hoofstock, their normally dry moats now flooded present a different issue.

“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,” said Magill. “We have safety issues for both animals and people and there was just no way we could keep the zoo open.”

Magill said flooding hasn’t been this bad since Hurricane Wilma 10 years ago.

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“I’ve been here 36 years and I have never seen this amount of rain in November and December. Normally we have two inches for the entire month,” said Magill.

The zoo’s staff is spending Monday trying to bring the water levels down but with more expected rain in the forecast there may be little, if any recession of those levels.

Until the water recedes significantly, the zoo will remain closed at least another day, according to Magill.

The relentless rain is also taking a toll on farmers in South Miami-Dade.

Crops like corn, snap beans and squash are underwater in normally dry fields this time of year.

Farmer John Alger said it’s devastating his business

“I have three quarters of a million in the ground and it hurts” he said.

Alger said we will all feel the effects of this heavy rain at the supermarket.

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“It’s all supply and demand. When supply goes down, price goes up.”