Thursday, April 19, 2012

Lake Superior Zoo Floods, Animals Die

Photo courtesy: © Emily Lepisto

Global warming has been the orchestrator of yet another tragedy. Climate change has caused flooding in Duluth, Minnesota, USA. Hundreds of animals have died at the zoo and an entire community has been cut off.

The Mayor of Duluth, Minnesota - Don Ness - has declared a state of emergency as heavy rainfall has undermined roads, knocked out power, and devastated the city only days after the tourist town's famous Grandma's marathon. The disruption to humans is severe, with evacuations of low-lying areas underway, but no fatalities reported yet. A different story plays out for the animals of the Lake Superior Zoo.

As many cages remain flooded, the toll of the rains cannot yet be known, but many of the zoo's barnyard animals have drowned, including sheep, goats and donkeys. The zoo has updated their facebook page to help keep friends of the zoo informed as the tragedy evolves:
What has happened at the zoo is extremely traumatic for our staff and animals. Our hearts are broken and we very much appreciate your kindness and compassion. It is our priority to keep you all appraised of the latest developments. We ask for your patience and continued support. We assure you we are continually working to maintain the safety and well-being of our beloved animals.

Animals that could swim did: the zoo's polar bear, named Berlin, and a seal escaped as the waters floated them above the enclosures of their zoo homes. Berlin, the polar bear, was darted with a tranquilizer and has been moved to a safe area. A seal celebrating his freedom on Duluth's Grand Avenue was caught in a phone photo by local anchorman Dan Hanger and has been making the rounds on facebook and the Duluth news outlets.

"The zoo is a lake," my Duluth contact is reporting to me as he drives by the site, trying to reach the nearby historical Morgan Park neighborhood, famous as the factory town erected for workers at the U.S. Steel plant. The planned community can be accessed only through tunnels underneath the railways that once brought ore to be turned into steel, but which have now flooded and closed off all traffic, as the rain continues to fall.

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