Zookeepers’ Search Ends In Relief, Grief
Zookeepers’ Search Ends In Relief, Grief, Several animals, including a polar bear, escape the Duluth zoo after torrential flooding slams the city. Jeb, the black and brown dwarfed goat at Lake Superior Zoo, sought out Brad Jago every day for a little love, attention and a gentle scratch on the forehead where his horns once stood.
On Wednesday it was Jago seeking Jeb, as the groundskeeper and the rest of the zoo staff scrambled to find and recapture animals that escaped during torrential overnight flooding that forced the evacuation of some homes in a low-lying neighborhood in the port city of Duluth.
Zoo workers safely recovered two seals and a polar bear that had managed to escape their enclosures but Jeb and a dozen or so other animals from the zoo’s barnyard exhibit – including other goats, sheep and a miniature donkey – drowned.
“That was a tough loss,” said Jago, one of several employees who spent Wednesday afternoon grieving and regrouping after the exhausting search that began before dawn.
The storm dumped up to 10 inches of rain on the northeastern Minnesota city, which sits on a steep rocky hillside that leads down to Lake Superior.
There were no immediate reports of serious injuries, though an 8-year-old boy was swept about six blocks through a culvert in Duluth. The boy suffered some scrapes and bruises but was fine, St. Louis County Undersheriff Dave Phillips said, calling it a “miracle out of this whole disaster.”
Gov. Mark Dayton declared a state of emergency Wednesday and authorized the National Guard to help the city of 86,000 cope with extensive damage. There were multiple reports of streets having been washed out, and parts of the zoo remain submerged Wednesday hours after the rain stopped.
Furniture from exhibits lay scattered about the zoo and water marks showed flooding that reached as high as 14 feet off the ground in places, said Peter Pruett, the zoo’s director of animal management.
Pruett’s day began with a 3 a.m. phone call that someone had spotted a seal on a street near the zoo. He went to the scene, and found the harbor seal, Feisty, in the street, corralled by three police cars. (AP)