Prospects dim for Saipan zoo’s reopening


Once a popular destination on Saipan, the Saipan Zoo was just about annihilated after Typhoon Soudelor hit the island two years ago and prospects of it reopening any time soon remains bleak.

Up to now, it is still uncertain when the CNMI’s only zoo will be restored or if it will ever be open to the public again.

Saipan Zoo manager Sunny Aldan said she is sad to inform the public that the zoo is still closed more that two years after Soudelor hit and may not reopen for a while.

“The zoo is still closed and, honestly, it may not make a comeback for a while…it may take years,” said Aldan.

Aldan told Saipan Tribune that the damage to the zoo would cost a lot to repair because of how extreme the damage was.

Aside from the cost of renovations, the cost of maintaining the zoo animals are still bleeding the family dry.

“The cost of simply feeding the animals alone is very high…it is all about passion when it comes to our animals,” Aldan said.

The family continues to care for the many zoo animals that are under its care. “We are still maintaining the habitats and keeping a generous feeding schedule for each individual animal,” she said.

Although the family really wants to reopen the zoo to the public, they are still far from recovery. “The animals are still here and we love them…but in terms of recovery and reopening, it truly may take a few years,” said Aldan.

Although some of the animals have already died, like the monkeys, she said these animals have lived past their expected lifespan, especially since they have been in captivity for almost 17 years.

“We had majority of our animals since the 2000s and they were fully grown, so being that they lived in captivity, they grew past their normal lifespans,” said Aldan.

The passing of a few of their animals saddened the zoo and its staff, but their bigger animals still remain alive and well, Aldan said

The animals that still remain at the Saipan Zoo are the African lion, the Siberian tiger, monitor lizards, and many local animals like sheep, deer, and chickens.

The Saipan Zoo was actually an extension of the Aldan family’s landscaping business, Tropical Gardens Inc. It was established in the 1990s without government aid for the enjoyment of the public.

What is left of the Saipan Zoo after Soudelor is sill under the maintenance of the Aldan family. For individuals interested in supporting the zoo’s recovery, feel free to contact the zoo directly through its Facebook page.

Kimberly Bautista Esmores | Reporter
Kimberly Bautista Esmores has covered a wide range of news beats, including the community, housing, crime, and more. She now covers sports for the Saipan Tribune. Contact her at

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