Duluth, a second tier Minnesota city on Lake Superior, has been flooding. This is a little unusual; heavy rains following a period of saturation have caused a local river that is usually not even heard of to grow very large and cause flooding that a lot of people haven’t seen before.
The polar bear and the seal were able to leave their enclosures in the high water. The bear was darted and is safely put away somewhere, the seal is said to have taken a stroll around the neighborhood. But the barn animals, apparently including cattle, ovicaprids, and donkey have all perished in the flood.
This raises an interesting point. The flooding risk to a given piece of land is pretty much known in the US for everywhere. It seems like it would be a fairly easy task to determine if animal enclosures or other areas in a zoo are at risk of being flooded like this, and then to redesign to allow for animals to escape to somewhere. One would think that his would be a responsibility automatically addressed by Zoo managers. I’m fairly sure the federal governing body for Zoos is, at least in part, the USDA. Perhaps they have an opinion on this.
In this particular case, it seems (subject to revision) that a particular culvert had become blocked with debris, and thus water backed up into the zoo. Eventually, the culvert was totally washed out which presumably would have allowed flood water to recede. It is possible to re-engineer culverts to avoid this sort of thing from happening. An assessment of the likelihood of flooding here may well have led to such a fix prior to the incident.
Should existing zoos be assessed for future flood risk?
Here’s a local news story.
Yes, the animals were contained within the property, but not necessarily alive. My sense is that he already knows the state of the animals but is letting the Zoo folks handle the news.
And yes, the “Highway 61″ mentioned in the news is, indeed this one:
Photo of bear by *clairity*