With another onslaught of rain on the way that is likely to cause more of this type of damage across the region, the Oakland Zoo is facing some significant road-repair work before it can reopen to the public due to a sinkhole that formed after Saturday's storm.
An overwhelmed culvert beneath the vehicle entrance to the Oakland Zoo of Golf Links Road, which was inundated with floodwaters from Arroyo Viejo Creek, gave way and created a ten-foot-wide sinkhole in the road on Sunday. The zoo reported that this was just one of the impacts from the storm's aftermath, and that they would be closed until at least January 17 as a result of the entrance road being impassible.
"The incredible velocity and volume of the water that was coming down just wreaked havoc across the zoo," said Oakland Zoo CEO Nik Dehejia, speaking to ABC7. "Drainage systems weren't able to keep up, mud was coming off the hillside, across our pathways and our parking lot."
"Engineers called to the site yesterday say that with additional rain expected in the next several days, the sinkhole could worsen during the time," the zoo said on Facebook. "Zoo officials are working with a local company specializing in engineering, design, and construction to repair the sinkhole as soon as possible, and were advised it may take an estimated 2 weeks or more for materials to arrive and the work to be completed."
And with an even more intense storm on the way Wednesday, the zoo may have other issues to contend with besides the impassible road — if the weekend's storm cleanup was any indication.
"In other areas of the Zoo [on Saturday], the volume and velocity of the water flowing across the Zoo grounds caused incredible soil erosion, eucalyptus trees to fall, flooding in various buildings, and overwhelmed drainage systems," zoo officials said. "Electricity went out at times and our internet and ticketing systems were intermittently working."
The historic intensity of the rain on Saturday, which broke records across the Bay Area, meant a historic level of damage on the zoo's grounds.
"It's been probably 50 years since we've seen something of this magnitude," Dehejia told ABC7.
Thankfully, zoo officials said that "All animals and staff are fine and remained safe during the extreme weather," and zookeepers remain onsite daily to care for the animals, despite the public not being able to get in.
The Oakland Zoo has been in the midst of its ever-popular, often sold-out, annual Glowfari event, which features large, illuminated, animal-shaped lantern throughout the park. It's a big draw for families on winter evenings, and the zoo is now having to refund or reschedule tickets from the holiday weekend and throughout the next two weeks.
Glowfari is expected to resume on January 18th and run through the 29th, but people with tickets should check their email for updates.
Related: Video: Abandoned Mountain Lion Cub Recovering Nicely At Oakland Zoo, Where Animals Also Got Christmas Presents