Swollen rivers and record high levels on Lake Erie keep Sandusky petting zoo closed

Sandusky Park forced to close doors because of flooded grounds

CLEVELAND, Ohio (WOIO) - Northeast Ohio has seen more than its share of flooding.

The effect of all that water has not only washed out roads and swelled local rivers, it’s forcing some business owners to fight the tide, just to stay afloat.

Jeff Nielsen is one of them.

According to the Corp of Engineers, the lake is about 30-inches above normal.

Nielsen is the General Manager of the Lagoon Deer Park in Sandusky.

It’s a petting park with six different breeds of deer, American elk, ostriches, limas, miniature donkeys, goats and sheep.

With more than two hundred animals it looks like a staging area for Noah’s Ark.

This is back by the bucks and the catch pen where all of the animals normally are at.

Posted by Lagoon Deer Park. on Saturday, June 22, 2019

“I’m all back-fed by Lake Erie. My park sits on the other back edge of the marshes that flow under Route 2 into Sandusky Bay. So, when the lake’s up I’m up with it. I’ve only seen it like this one other time back in the 80s. But, by now I was open,” Nielsen said.

Some lamas nosed right up to our camera when we showed up to do this story for 19 News.

They are apparently ready for their close up or maybe they just wanted some peanuts they are often fed by visitors.

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“Cry... Yeah, you want ma? I couldn’t help it. I had to hold what is called a pygmy goat. It is one of a set of twins born here over the last couple of weeks. You can hear the animals here, including the yell of a beautiful peacock strutting around the enclosed petting farm. The only thing is, he didn’t display his colorful plume,” Nielsen said.

Nielsen is having a tough time feeding all of them since his business got flooded, forcing him to close until the water recedes.

Even then, he is still going to lose money. The 4th of July weekend and the week following it are among his most profitable. An expected 2-hundred visitors a day can’ t even get to his place

“Unfortunately with my business all my souvenirs, all my insurance, all that stuff has to be paid in advance, all my advertising. That’s all paid for the season already. It’s almost a thousand dollars a week to feed these animals. We farm also and because of all the bad rain we haven’t been able to bail hay yet this year or plant any corn at all. It’s been a really tough year," Neilsen said.

So tough that friends and customers have set up a Go Fund Me account to help save his business. Jeff said he so grateful.

If you want to help, you get more info from the Deer Park Facebook page.

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