Monorail cars: Minnesota Zoo’s white elephants permanently derailed

Seventeen monorail cars nobody seems to want are sitting at the Minnesota Zoo this fall, their days in motion done perhaps for good.

Since debuting at the Apple Valley zoo in an era when sleek, futuristic trains were springing up at zoos across the country, the monorail was plagued by low ridership and financial shortfalls. In the early 1980s, it came close to being repossessed or even sold for scrap. In recent years, it had been more quietly losing money, until finally, this fall, the zoo pulled the plug.

“It was an outdated system that had reached the end of its useful life,” said zoo spokeswoman Kelly Lessard. There were “no viable or affordable options to replace [it]. … The manufacturer has long been out of business.”

Commissioning new trains to run on existing track, she said, would have cost “in excess of $40 million, and we determined this would not be the best use of future capital dollars since monorail ridership had declined over the years to below 15 percent of the zoo’s total annual attendance.”

Story by StarTribune, photo by Keeshond

African Penguin Chick Born At Minnesota Zoo

The Minnesota Zoo is thrilled to announce the hatching of its first endangered African penguin chick – a significant achievement for the Zoo which opened the 3M Penguins of the African Coast exhibit in 2011.

Hatched March 2, the penguin – whose gender is not yet known – is currently being raised behind-the-scenes by foster parents. The biological parents were not incubating the egg consistently so the decision was made to give it to an experienced pair. So far the chick is doing very well and has grown from 2.4 ounces to over 1 pound, 6 ounces.

A second chick hatched on March 21 at just under 2 ounces and has grown to almost three pounds.

via Minnesota Zoo

Minnesota Zoo tiger cubs celebrate first birthday

Sundari, left, playfully paws Nadya to try to get her share of cake as the Amur tiger cubs celebrate their first birthdays at the Minnesota Zoo on Monday. The frozen cake was flavored with fruit juice, blood and chicken stock.

Sundari was born at the Apple Valley zoo on June 17, 2012. Nadya was born at the St. Louis Zoo on July 1, 2012, and was transferred to Minnesota a few weeks later.


  1. Camera: Nikon D300s
  2. Aperture: f/5.6
  3. Exposure: 1/320th
  4. Focal Length: 24mm

Minnesota Zoo Snow Monkey

It’s April 11th and we’re getting a lot of fresh #snow today - good thing our snow monkeys love this weather!

via Minnesota Zoo

Valentine’s Day at the Minnesota Zoo

via Minnesota Zoo Facebook page

Tiny Bubbles for Tiger Cubs!

Everyone needs play time - including this pair of Amur Tiger cubs at the Minnesota Zoo! Thanks to the donation of a bubble machine from the zoo’s “Animal Enrichment Wish List,” the cubs enjoyed interacting with these mysterious new “toys!”

via Zoo Borns

Two Twin Cities Zoos Get “Cutest Baby Animals at U.S. Zoos” Acknowledgement From Travel and Leisure Magazine

Dmitri and Tamara, Amur Leopards, Minnesota Zoo, Apple Valley
Less than 40 Amur leopards exist in the wild, so the birth of two cubs in May 2012 was a boon not just for the Minnesota Zoo, but for the worldwide species too. Their mother, Polina, has raised the cubs since day one, and they’ve already developed distinct personalities: Tamara’s the spunky one, while Dmitri is a bit sassier.

Stella Gray, Athena, and Mariah, Arctic Foxes, Como Park Zoo, St. Paul, MN
Arctic foxes Aurora (mom) and Zephyr (dad) welcomed a litter of nine pups in March. Three—Stella Gray, Athena, and Mariah—still reside at the Como Park Zoo. They’re quick and feisty and love to scamper around their grassy habitat. They’ve also shown off their artistic prowess by creating colorful “paw paintings” for zoo auctions and TV segments

via Travel and Leisure

Mel Gibson visits Minnesota Zoo over the weekend

Oh hey there Mel Gibson! Thanks for visiting the Minnesota Zoo and we are so glad you had a great time exploring!

via Minnesota Zoo Facebook page

Black Bear Opening Weekend – September 15 & 16, 2012

The Minnesota Zoo’s newest exhibit, Black Bear, brings one of the state’s most iconic species to the Medtronic Minnesota Trail. This exhibit will feature three bears, Minnesota’s largest omnivores, in a naturalistic environment. The bears were brought to the Zoo after being orphaned as cubs.

The new exhibit includes a pool, trees for climbing, and natural Minnesota vegetation. Featuring two unique viewing opportunities – a den and cabin – the new exhibit will allow guests to come eye-to-eye with these remarkable creatures.

via Minnesota Zoo

Minnesota Zoo will end its dolphin exhibit via StarTribune

One of the Minnesota Zoo’s most popular species will no longer be on exhibit.

The two remaining dolphins are moving within a few months and will not be replaced, the zoo in Apple Valley announced Monday.

Zoo Director Lee Ehmke said Semo and Allie must be relocated because extensive repairs are needed to the 15-year-old Discovery Bay building and the dolphin tank, where the two are housed.

The refurbishment, combined with the species’ low availability, means there will be no dolphins at the Minnesota Zoo “in the foreseeable future,” Ehmke said.

Ehmke acknowledges that losing dolphins as an attraction will be disappointing to visitors. Except for a few brief interruptions, dolphins have been exhibited at the zoo since it opened in 1978.

"People love dolphins," he said. "It has consistently been one of the favorite animals. They have a lot of charisma, and people find them fascinating and love them, as do we."