Daily flooding impacting Sarasota's Big Cat Habitat

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SARASOTA-- One of Sarasota's most well-known attractions is experiencing flooding, and a local lawmaker admits that Sarasota County is to blame.

Portions of Big Cat Habitat on Palmer Boulevard are drying out after a rainstorm Tuesday morning. Yet, flooding occurs just about anytime it rains, according to owner, Kay Rosaire. She says the problem has been happening over the last three years.

"It has been a pretty big problem," says Rosaire. "We lose a lot of our parking areas because we are underwater. The mosquitoes don't help. It's much more attractive when it's a nice, green property."

Rosaire says the flooding has also been tough on the animals.

The issue started around the same time officials with Sarasota County were making drainage alterations at the neighboring Celery Fields. The county-owned property is now a park. According to Sarasota County Commissioner Joe Barbetta, whatever work was done to the drainage, caused Big Cat Habitat to become flood prone. Barbetta noticed the standing water during a recent trip to Rosaire's.

"We thought this had been addressed and didn't realize it until a few weeks ago that there were still some concerns. On a day like today with heavy rains, it just exacerbates the problem," said Barbetta.

Barbatta is making it his goal to come up with a solution to the issue.

"Even if this wasn't a tourist attraction, if a citizen's property gets flooded because of something we at the county did, we need to correct the situation," said Barbetta.

Barbetta will bring up the issue at the commission's August 27th meeting. He will instruct staff to conduct a report on the flooding and ultimately figure out a way to fix it.