DULUTH - The Lake Superior Zoo is planning to build a new polar bear exhibit in the wake of June's flash flooding. Zoo officials are working to determine the feasibility of building a new bear territory as the first major exhibit project since gaining AZA accreditation in 2011.
Zoo directors are in the preliminary planning stages and are working with an architectural consulting firm which specializes in zoo and aquarium design, to develop conceptual drawings and estimated costs for the project.
The concept will include building four new exhibits featuring bears that are native to the western hemisphere.
The new facility will include a polar bear exhibit.
Currently, zoo officials are still unsure of the future of the existing polar shores facility, which was heavily damaged from the flood.
The location of the new bear territory will be out of the flood plain.
"Zoo facilities and staff were hit extremely hard by the devastating flood," said director of zoo operations, Peter Pruett. "We are excited to continue moving forward and have the chance to make our zoo a better place for our guests and our animals. Plus, the bear territory facility has the potential to be the first project developed from our master plan."
The Lake Superior Zoo's polar bear, berlin, currently resides at the Como Park Zoo and conservatory in St. Paul.
Recently, Berlin underwent surgery to remove a necrotic mass in her stomach.
Her condition is stable and she is on the road to recovery.
The Lake Superior Zoo is working with the Association of Zoos and Aquariums' (AZA) polar bear species survival plan (ssp) on what will be best for Berlin as they work towards bear territory.
"We want what is absolutely best for berlin, as well as our brown bears phoebe and trouble," Pruett said. "That is our number one priority. We want them to be in the best exhibit, in the best home."