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Brad Dokken, Forum Communications, Published June 30 2012

Polar bear, seals may not return to Lake Superior Zoo

DULUTH, Minn. – The Lake Superior Zoo probably will reopen sometime after Wednesday, according to Zoological Society CEO Sam Maida. But when – and even if – the zoo’s popular polar bear and two seals will return from the Como Zoo in St. Paul is unknown.

Though the animals’ Polar Shores exhibit was not included in the Zoological Society’s 2010 long-range plan, Berlin, previously part of a pair with the late and well-loved Bubba, have been visitor favorites.

“Polar Shores’ real claim to fame is its home to the star attraction at LSZ, our beloved Polar Bear Berlin,” according to the zoo’s website.

“Our plan, right now, is yes (they’ll return),” Maida said. “(Berlin) is our bear. But the exhibit hasn’t been assessed yet, and then how long it will take for it to be fixed, if it’s fixable, and will the damages be beyond the dirt and the mud?”

However, Maida acknowledged that the zoo’s long-range plan doesn’t include Polar Shores.

Peter Pruett, the zoo’s director of animal management, said bringing those animals back should be re-evaluated.

“One of the things we have to decide is: Is it worth putting money into Polar Shores to get it back to where it was prior to the flood, even though Polar Shores isn’t necessarily in our master plan?” he said. “And then we want to decide: What do we want to do with this master plan? The master plan is a living document, so can it change?

“Simply put: We have all kinds of options,” he said.

Pruett said the zoo’s senior staff will consider those options and hope to make a decision on the Polar Shores exhibit as soon as possible.


Brandon Stahl writes for the Duluth News Tribune