Lake Superior Zoo, Duluth, Minnesota

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Monday, December 31, 2012

Written by Anya Russom, Guest Services Assistant
When looking out over the Tiger Deck fence, it’s nearly impossible to remember exactly how the zoo looked on the morning of June 20th. What once appeared to us as unspeakable tragedy is now all but erased by the frozen creek and snow-covered grounds. December 20th marked the six month anniversary of the flood that devastated our community. Here at the zoo, we are reminded on a daily basis of the hardship felt this summer. I doubt that will change anytime soon. And yet, the days do get easier. We look to the future with optimism and hope, and we rejoice in the fact that though the road has been difficult, we have made serious progress.

One major project that we’ve completed since the flood is our new barnyard. This area was severely affected by the storm, the results of which were devastating. In the past six months, the area has all but regained and surpassed its former glory. With the addition of two Shetland sheep, three Babydoll sheep, a Pygora goat, two Pygmy goats, three Nubian Alpine goats, and one very lovable llama, the barnyard has come alive with new life. Aside from our new barnyard friends, we’ve also added in a chicken coop (painted by volunteers) and a duck pond (built by an Eagle Scout). While our chickens and peafowl will rule the roost over the winter, our Pekin ducks are due to move in for Spring.
Another development that has been an ongoing process over the past six months is the refurbishment of zoo grounds. Being that 2/3 of the zoo was consumed by flood waters, (some areas remained under water for several days) getting things back to normal has been a chore. Over the summer, we planted new sod grass in heavily damaged areas like the playground. Towards the end of the summer, we were able to make the path by our deer and wolf yards clear and usable.

An ongoing task that has already started and will continue to be worked on throughout the winter is the dredging of Kingsbury Creek. During the flood, 3 feet of sediment was washed down from over the waterfall, causing major blockage and filling. In order to naturalize its flow and minimize the possibility of future flooding, the creek is in the slow process of being cleared.

Here at the zoo, things are looking up. We’ve got all the support and hope in the world driving us forward, and we can’t wait to see what this next year will bring our way. Granted, some days are better than others. Grief and loss are experienced differently by every person whom they meet. The process of overcoming such obstacles is not a linear progression, and through the waves of sorrow and optimism, it is vital to realize that your own model for improvement can and will be different from your fellow sufferers. What’s important is to recognize that it’s perfectly appropriate to take things at one’s own pace, but also to defer to 4hopefulness and determination in times of struggle.


posted by Keely Johnson at


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