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  4. A sea lion escaped the Central Park Zoo and 'explored' after heavy rain flooded New York City. Here are 3 other times flooding helped zoo animals escape.

A sea lion escaped the Central Park Zoo and 'explored' after heavy rain flooded New York City. Here are 3 other times flooding helped zoo animals escape.

Kenneth Niemeyer   

A sea lion escaped the Central Park Zoo and 'explored' after heavy rain flooded New York City. Here are 3 other times flooding helped zoo animals escape.
A hippopotamus was one of many animals that escaped a flooded zoo in Tbilisi, Georgia, and had to be shot with a tranquilizer dart.Associated Press
  • Heavy rainfall flooded the streets of New York City, prompting an emergency declaration.
  • A sea lion escaped from the Central Park Zoo to "explore the area" during the flooding.

New York Gov. Kathy Hochul declared a state of emergency on Friday for New York City after rainwater flooded the streets and filled subway stations across the city. LaGuardia Airport was forced to close access to Terminal A and officials closed FDR Drive in Manhattan because of floodwaters, among other road closures and transportation delays.

Also during the flooding, a female sea lion escaped from the Central Park Zoo and "explored the area" before returning to the zoo, the Wildlife Conservation Society said in a statement. The sea lion never breached the zoo's perimeter and was monitored by zoo staff during it's expedition, the statement said.

As rising sea levels continue to threaten New York and other areas, excessive rain has become more likely to cause quick, extreme flooding. Here are three other times that floods and other natural disasters helped zoo animals escape from their enclosures:

More than 30 animals escaped from a zoo in Tbilisi, Georgia, that was destroyed by floodwaters

More than 30 animals escaped from a zoo in Tbilisi, Georgia, that was destroyed by floodwaters
A hippopotamus walks across a flooded street in Tbilisi, Georgia, June 14, 2015.      Reuters

Dozens of animals, including lions, tigers, bears, and hippopotamus, escaped from a zoo in Tbilisi, Georgia, in June 2015 after heavy flood waters destroyed much of the zoo. The flood also killed at least 12 people.

Officials had to corner a hippo walking down one of Tbilisi's main streets and subdue it with a tranquilizer dart. Six wolves were also shot to death and several other animals died during the flooding, NBC reported at the time.

A German town went on lockdown after a bear escaped during flooding from stormwaters

A German town went on lockdown after a bear escaped during flooding from stormwaters
Police in Germany killed a bear that escaped from its enclosure in 2018.      Bryant Aardema -bryants wildlife images/Getty Images

In June 2018, a bear escaped from the Eifel Zoo in Germany. Two lions, two tigers, and a jaguar were also thought to have escaped from the local zoo, causing a massive police search, but were later found to have never left the facility, CBS reported at the time.

Police in Luenebach, Germany, shot and killed a bear that escaped from the zoo as well shortly after the flooding started. Western Germany had seen several strong storms for days leading up to the flood, according to CBS.

A polar bear escaped from its cage in a Minnesota zoo after a creek flooded the facility

A polar bear escaped from its cage in a Minnesota zoo after a creek flooded the facility
A polar bear escaped from a zoo in Duluth, Minnesota in 2012, according to reports.      Getty Images

Flooding from a nearby creek allowed several zoo animals to "float" over the walls of a zoo in Duluth, Minnesota and escape in June 2012, BBC reported at the time. The animals that escaped included harbor seals and a polar bear.

Zoo officials were able to tranquilize the polar bear and return it to its cage, but nearly a dozen other animals drowned in the flooding, prompting the zoo to temporarily close, according to the report.

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