San Diego Zoo will remain closed Thursday as crews repair broken gas line

San Diego Zoo officials evacuated staff from the zoo and closed the facility after a gas leak was discovered near the front entrance. Workers have been sent home for the day and the animals are safe and secure.
(Nelvin C. Cepeda / The San Diego Union-Tribune)

San Diego Zoo officials said the popular attraction will remain closed for the day after a broken natural gas line near the front entrance prompted the evacuations of staffers and also led other Balboa Park attractions to temporarily close.

The gas leak was under control just after 1 p.m., according to a San Diego Gas & Electric spokeswoman. The initial report was that it had been under control by 11 a.m.

Several museums at Balboa Park remained closed shortly before noon on Thursday including those along El Prado, the road that runs from the Cabrillo Bridge (also commonly referred to as Laurel Street Bridge).


The broken line led utility crews to shut off gas lines to all the facilities in Balboa Park, except the Museum of Man. According to a tweet from Explore Balboa Park, the Natural History Museum and Spanish Village were also temporarily closed due to the line break.

Other areas of the park were also closed down as well, according to the president of the Balboa Park Conservancy.

The main entrance to the zoo and a nearby parking lot were also closed as crews worked on a fix.


A zoo spokesman said the park would be closed all day Thursday, and that officials would assess the matter Friday before deciding whether to open the famed attraction for the day. They planned to announce their decision on their social media accounts on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.

The closures come on a sunny summer day at the park, which draws tourists and residents alike.

The Spanish Village Art Center, near the San Diego Zoo in Balboa Park, was also closed.
(Nelvin C. Cepeda / The San Diego Union-Tribune)

Tomas Herrera-Mishler, the CEO and president of the Balboa Park Conservancy said the closures were “a disappointment.” But he was quick to add that the 1,200-acre park had plenty of other attractions to offer, including golfing and walking trails.

“And the good news is that our friends at SDG&E are working hard to get this all resolved as fast as they can,” he said.

The call about a gas main break came in just after 8 a.m., according to tweets from San Diego Fire-Rescue Department. Two crews and a battalion chief were at the scene.

San Diego Gas & Electric crews were on scene for repairs. SDG&E spokeswoman Sara Prince said that the line had been broken by a contractor during construction.

She said crews initially thought the broken line was a 4-inch pipe. Workers later confirmed the break was to a ¾-inch steel service line.


Prince said gas has been turned off to all facilities in Balboa Park except the Museum of Man. She said the restoration could be completed by roughly 4:30 p.m.

4:24 PM, Aug. 22, 2019: This story was updated with information from SDG&E, including the correct size of the damaged line.
4:24 PM, Aug. 22, 2019: This story was updated with comments from the Balboa Park Conservancy’s CEO and president.
4:24 PM, Aug. 22, 2019: This story was updated with additional information from SDG&E and the San Diego Zoo.
4:24 PM, Aug. 22, 2019: This story was updated with information from SDG&E.

The stories shaping California

Get up to speed with our Essential California newsletter, sent six days a week.

You may occasionally receive promotional content from the Los Angeles Times.