Lifestyle & Belief

Tragedy at Minnesota zoo: Animals drown in severe floods


Two of Lake Superior Zoo's seals managed to swim to safety - including this one, who was spotted by local residents on a nearby road.


Justin Cich

Tragedy struck the Lake Superior Zoo in Duluth, Minnesota, overnight when heavy flooding caused several animals to drown.

The entire city is in a state of emergency after torrential rains caused flash floods and mudslides, the Duluth News Tribune reported

The zoo, which lies along a creek, was particularly badly hit, spokeswoman Susan Wolniakowski told Minnesota Public Radio.

At least 11 animals have been confirmed dead so far, another zoo official told MSNBC. Two-thirds of the zoo remain underwater, meaning there could be further casualties.

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The barnyard animals were the worst hit: all but one of them died, including sheep, goats and a donkey. The exhibit's sole survivor, a miniature horse named Darla, made it by "swimming her heart out," spokesman Keeley Johnson told the Guardian.

There were other survivors, too: two seals, Feisty and Vivienne, swam clear of the zoo grounds altogether and were found by local residents on nearby roads. 

Meanwhile the zoo's polar bear, Berlin, clambered out of her cage – but didn't get very far before keepers found her and returned her to a holding area, Wolniakowski assured MPR listeners.

"All our carnivores are secure and accounted for," the spokeswoman said.

While the zoo described the floods as "extremely traumatic" for staff and animals, some Twitter users saw a funny side.

By Wednesday, accounts had been set up for both Feisty and Berlin, with the seal taunting the polar bear: