Minnesota Zoo roars back after two-day shutdown

The Minnesota Zoo in Apple Valley was shuttered for two days Friday and Saturday — a victim of the state shutdown — but reopened Sunday and had a booming, if shortened, Fourth of July weekend.

Zoo Director Lee Ehmke said this morning that after being closed those two days, zoo staff got the word late Saturday that Judge Kathleen Gearin had ruled in their favor on the issue, deciding that the zoo’s funding was not subject to the shutdown.

“We did not receive word of the decision until after 4:00 pm on Saturday, so it took a major effort to contact and ‘recall’ all Zoo staff in order to re-open Sunday morning,” he said in an email.

On Sunday and Monday, about 8,300 people came to the reopened zoo, he said.

“While this is slightly lower than past Sunday/Mondays over the 4th of July weekend, we are very pleased with the numbers given that many people assumed the Zoo was closed,” he said.

The zoo’s financial hit from being closed two prime summer weekend holiday days: as much as $100,000-$160,000. They also had to cancel one day of Zoo Camp and may need to return fees to people who had pre-paid for that activity, he said.

But it would have been much worse if the judge had not allowed them to reopen, he said.

And the upside:

Visitors “were impressed by our beautiful new South Entrance, which officially opened on Sunday morning,” and there’s “the reassurance that we can open our new 3M Penguins of the African Coast exhibit as planned on July 9,” he said.

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Comments (1)

  1. Submitted by Claire Lundgren on 07/05/2011 - 01:35 pm.

    I am happy the zoo was able to reopen. But what about the two other businesses, that do not receive any funding from the state, the racetracks? They were lumped into the same special category to be reconsidered to reopen. They are private businesses that are entirely self supporting and that pay the fees to fund the MRC upfront, as they had this year. When they receive no state funds, and in fact are a source of state dollars, why are they not allowed to open? The judge who ruled against them twice almost looks like she perhaps has her own political agenda. And she should have recused herself from the case since she was hearing an appeal on her own ruling.

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