Milnthorpe’s Wildlife Oasis is struggling to keep its head above water after last week’s record rainfall.
Staff at the zoo arrived last Sunday to the most severe flooding since Storm Desmond in 2015.
With groundwater levels rising for up to three days after the worst deluge, the zoo’s car park, woodlands, walkways and all outdoor enclosures were under two feet of floodwater.
The zoo has reassured concerned supporters that thanks to their dedicated staff, all animals are safe and dry.
It is attempting to remain open as much as possible, but emergency measures including moving animals and diverting visitor walkways is impacting on workload and revenue.
Especially demoralising was seeing the brand new walls of the recently renovated ‘miniature monkey’ exhibit sodden with rising floodwater.
Zoo founder Jo Marsden said: “It’s heartbreaking. We never had any flooding in our first 20 years, but climate change is now causing so many ‘freak’ weather events.
“How can you plan when each time it exceeds all predictions? We’ve invested thousands on flood defences, to raise as much of the land as we can, so the impact has been less disastrous than last time, but it’s still devastating and such hard work.
“As a charity, our income is committed to animal welfare and conservation projects; any dip or emergency outlay threatens our work and even survival.”
With the lemur enclosures completely submerged, all hands are literally to the pump so that half term events planned for ‘World Lemur Day’ on October 25 can still go ahead.
Jo added: “We were determined to stay open, but with much of the zoo under water, we’ve closed risky areas and halved entrance fees.
“Our visitors have been amazing – with offers of help, and donations, we are so grateful for all their support and expressions of concern.”
Any individuals or local businesses who can donate time, practical skills or money can contact the Oasis via 015395 63027, www.wildlifeoasis.co.uk, or ‘Lakeland Wildlife Oasis’ on Facebook, where the zoo is posting regular updates on the crisis situation.