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    Sea lion at Central Park Zoo escapes flooded enclosure, swims to freedom as heavy rain batters NYC
    • September 29, 2023

    Josephine Stratman | New York Daily News

    A sea lion got a taste of freedom — and murky brown floodwaters — after a deluge of rain battering NYC caused the Central Park Zoo sea lion pool to flood over on Friday.

    The zoo was closed on Friday due to the inclement weather — but the intrepid sea lion swam outside her enclosure as several inches of rain overwhelmed the plaza around the pool.

    “A female sea lion at Central Park Zoo was able to swim out of her pool due to flooding of the plaza caused by severe rains in New York City today,” Jim Breheny, Executive Vice President of the Wildlife Conservation Society’s Zoos and Aquariums said in a statement.

    However, freedom apparently turned out to be not all it was cracked up to be, and she soon turned around and went back home.

    “Zoo staff monitored the sea lion as she explored the area before returning to the familiar surroundings of the pool and the company of the other two sea lions,” Breheny added.

    The Wildlife Conservation Society oversees the Central Park Zoo, as well as the Bronx Zoo, Prospect Park Zoo, Queens Zoo and the New York Aquarium.

    Central Park received nearly 6 inches of rain on Friday, according to the National Weather Service — levels not seen since Hurricane Ida in 2021.

    Widespread flooding and sustained heavy rain across the city promoted both Gov. Hochul and Mayor Adams to declare New York City under a state of emergency on Friday. At least 150 school buildings flooded and a half-dozen people were pulled from flooded basements by the FDNY.

    Breheny said that water levels have since receded, and that all animals are now contained in their exhibits. No staff or visitors were endangered, and no animals escaped the zoo entirely.

    “Animal care staff will continue to monitor the situation through the duration of the weather event,” Breheny said.

    Inquiries into the name of the sea lion were not immediately answered.

    ​ Orange County Register