Sinkhole will keep Louisville Zoo, Mega Cavern closed Thursday

Neighbors hope their property value doesn’t slide
A sinkhole opened up at the Louisville Zoo on Wednesday.
A sinkhole opened up at the Louisville Zoo on Wednesday.(Louisville Zoo)
Updated: Mar. 7, 2019 at 12:32 PM CST
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The Louisville Zoo found the sinkhole during morning rounds.

LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) – The Louisville Zoo and the Mega Cavern underneath it will be closed again Thursday following the discovery of a sinkhole Wednesday morning.

The sinkhole was found off a service road in an undeveloped part of the zoo near the Oasis Tent, Louisville Zoo spokeswoman Kyle Shepherd said.

Louisville Metro Emergency Services director Jody Meiman said the sinkhole was discovered during a routine walkaround at about 8:30 a.m.

The sinkhole was found Wednesday morning by zoo staff.
The sinkhole was found Wednesday morning by zoo staff.(Louisville Zoo)

The sinkhole was 60 yards wide by 90 yards long. Meiman estimated the sinkhole could be 50 feet deep.

Before the sinkhole was discovered, the Louisville Mega Cavern, which is located under the Louisville Zoo, was closed due to a 3.4 earthquake that was reported in Maynard, Tenn., late Tuesday evening. Officials said it doesn’t look like the sinkhole was related to the earthquake, so the cause is still unknown.

The sinkhole was outlined and marked in order to track if it grows.

Louisville Mega Cavern Executive Vice President Charles Park said an inspection was being performed on the ziplines Wednesday morning when Mega Cavern staff heard a sound in an unoccupied portion of the cavern.

No one was injured and no animals were hurt when a sinkhole opened up at the Louisville Zoo.
No one was injured and no animals were hurt when a sinkhole opened up at the Louisville Zoo.(Louisville Zoo)

Meiman said engineers were on site inspecting the Mega Cavern and the site at the zoo. He said crews from the Louisville Water Company, Louisville Gas and Electric and Metropolitan Sewer District also were inspecting the area, which will continue to be monitored overnight.

On Thursday, officials said debris was found in an unoccupied, isolated section of the cavern located under commercial districts and residential areas.

Officials said those homes are not in danger.

Terry and Donna Reddington have lived in their home just a few blocks away from the zoo and Mega Cavern for 15 years.

Terry Reddington said he grew up near the zoo and has never seen a sinkhole like this. When he heard about the massive sinkhole, it was a bit nerve-wracking.

“It was scary to know that this close to my house and us being up on the caves what could happen,” he said.

His wife, Donna, was at work when she heard about the sinkhole.

“I’m thinking, ‘Oh my god,’” she said. “I found the map and picture, printed it out, zoomed in and saw the sinkhole and saw that my house was two blocks away.”

Terry Reddington said over the last few years he’s had some sinkholes in his backyard near the pool. He filled them with concrete and they haven’t been an issue since the summer. After hearing of Wednesday’s sinkhole, Donna said she’s concerned.

“Fear because right away I thought, ‘Oh my god Terry had that sinkhole out by the pool,’” she said. “Is this an indication the house is going to fall in? You know, automatic fear.”

The Reddingtons said they hope officials can figure out the cause soon.

“I want to be comfortable that my property value is going to stay what it is and all is going to be well and that we’re not going to fall into some big hole,” Donna Reddington said.

No buildings were damaged and no injuries were reported.

The Zoo and Mega Cavern will remain closed while crews continue their investigations.

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