PETA Demands Legal Action After Zoo Animal Drownings

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DULUTH, Minn. (WCCO) – The animal rights group PETA is pressing for legal action after a number of animals at a Duluth zoo were killed amid flash flooding.

PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) issued a press release calling for “appropriate charges” in response to the deaths of several animals at Lake Superior Zoo earlier this week.

Zoo workers reported several barnyard animals — which included a donkey, sheep, and goats — were killed Wednesday morning.

The only barn animal from the zoo that survived was a mini-horse named Darla.

A number of other animals escaped their enclosures during the flooding, including Berlin the polar bear and Feisty and Vivian, a pair of seal sisters.

Some of those animals were relocated to the Como Zoo in St. Paul.

PETA argued that workers at the Lake Superior Zoo should have been aware of the danger their animals faced due to flooding from the nearby creek two years ago.

“The zoo failed to take necessary action to safeguard these animals’ lives, and those responsible must be criminally charged,” said Daphna Nachminovitch, vice president of cruelty investigations with PETA.

PETA says the zoo violated Minnesota’s cruelty-to-animals statute.

You can help families affected by the flooding by donating to the American Red Cross. The phone number is 1-800-RED-CROSS. Or text the word “REDCROSS” from your cell phone to 90999 to make a $10 donation that will go directly on your phone bill.

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Zoo’s polar bear escapes, seals ‘washed away’ in Duluth flooding

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The rains and flooding in northeastern Minnesota have devastated a local zoo, killing at least 14 animals. Amid the chaos, a polar bear had to be tranquilized after escaping her enclosure, and two seals “washed away” and wound up on a Duluth thoroughfare.

That may have been how passersby knew there was a problem at Lake Superior Zoo, said spokeswoman Holly Henry — they drove past Feisty and Helen out on Grand Avenue. Escaped seal pictures were even popping up on social media.

The two seals survived the ordeal, but officials at the small Duluth zoo were mourning the loss Wednesday of the animals that died — and the death toll may grow, Henry said.

“We’re still not entirely sure how many animals were lost,” she said. Animals killed in the severe flooding included “all but one of the barnyard animals” — those in the petting zoo. Six sheep, four goats, one raven, one vulture, one snowy owl and a donkey died in the flooding.

The zoo has a creek that flows through the 16-acre property, Henry said, and when torrential rains hit, there was “severe, severe flooding.”

The drama began to unfold in the early hours of the morning. Overnight security at the zoo contacted the director of animal care about 3 a.m. to report flash flooding, she said.

Making sure the large, dangerous animals were contained was officials’ top priority, Henry said. She stressed that the zoo’s polar bear, Berlin, never escaped the zoo’s perimeter fence. The animal did, however, leave her enclosure.

“When they first spotted her, she was on her exhibit — but on the wall of her exhibit,” Henry said. At that point, the animal was not agitated — “she was really quite pleased with herself.

The police were on hand, as were two zoo officials.

Henry said zoo personnel shot the animal with a tranquilizer dart. Then, Berlin became agitated, and “it takes a few minutes after they’re darted to go down.”

“Even though it’s a large white object, it’s pretty nerve racking,” police spokesman Jim Hansen told the Associated Press of the attempt to corral Berlin.

Henry said of the zoo property itself: “It’s a disaster.” Officials won’t know the extent of the damage to the zoo until the rain stops and they’re given a chance to inspect and begin the clean-up process.

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