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“It was an outdated system that had reached the end of its useful life,” said zoo spokeswoman Kelly Lessard.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.”
Zoo trying to prevent extinction of ‘most Minnesotan’ butterfly
Biologists at the Minnesota Zoo are scrambling to prevent a modern day extinction of a species that once thrived in Minnesota. The Poweshiek skipperling is a butterfly that lives its whole life in the prairies of the upper Midwest. But the tallgrass prairie is mostly gone. And so is a species that was once among the most common butterflies in Minnesota.
Erik Runquist leads the Minnesota Zoo’s Prairie Butterfly Conservation Program, which started work in 2012. He calls the Poweshiek skipperling the “most Minnesotan” of all butterflies because more of its historic range fell in the state than any other butterfly.
As recently as a decade ago, the skipperlings were too numerous for biologists to bother to count. But their population has declined sharply in the last 10 years and no Poweshiek skipperlings have been observed in Minnesota since 2007. They also appear to be gone from Iowa and North and South Dakota.
Minnesota once had an estimated 18 million acres of prairie land — of which less than 1 percent now remains, Runquist says.
Now the Butterfly Conservation Program, with funds from the Clean Water, Land and Legacy Amendment, is trying to capture females where the species does exist — in Wisconsin and Manitoba — and hatch their eggs in the lab. Runquist reluctantly forsees a day when Poweshiek skipperlings will exist primarily, if not exclusively, in a zoo environment.
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.
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
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
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!
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