Maryland Zoo in Baltimore to reopen March 13

February snow caused $1.5 million in damage

some exhibits to remain closed

March 02, 2010|By Liz F. Kay | liz.kay@baltsun.com | Baltimore Sun reporter

The Maryland Zoo in Baltimore will reopen March 13, but some exhibits will remain closed to visitors after damage caused by February's historic snowstorms, a zoo spokeswoman said Tuesday.

The zoo was scheduled to reopen for the spring March 1. That was postponed when storms brought down trees and destroyed two aviaries in mid-February, causing $1.5 million in damage, and the costs of repairs, employee overtime and lost revenue have further challenged the institution's ability to emerge from recent financial difficulties.

The African Aviary may not reopen until the fall, zoo spokeswoman Jane Ballentine said. The storm also destroyed the netting on the Maryland Aviary, but visitors will be able to walk the paths inside that exhibit and view wild birds.

"You'll see native birds, but it'll be a little different," Ballentine said.

Zoo officials will make daily decisions about whether it is safe to exhibit animals in other areas. For example, mud caused by melting snow is dangerous in the giraffes' yard, according to Ballentine.

"If they slip and fall, it's much more difficult to nurse them back to health, than, say, a rhino," she said. And even though rhinos enjoy mud, they might slip on frozen ground, too.

Exhibit announcements will be posted on the zoo's Web site and Facebook page "so we can give a full picture of what you can and cannot see on any given day until things clear out," Ballentine said.

Zoo officials have planned a reopening celebration for March 13 and 14, with $5 admission.

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