Zoo Animals Die in Devastating Minn. Flood
Seal, polar bear swim to safety after torrential rains
By Mary Papenfuss,  Newser User
Posted Jun 21, 2012 12:34 AM CDT
Updated Jun 21, 2012 12:54 AM CDT
A lucky zoo escapee is spotted on a nearby avenue.   (Courtesy Ellie Burcar)
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(Newser) – A polar bear and a seal who managed to swim to freedom and safety were among the lucky ones when torrential rains inundated a Minnesota town, flooding homes and streets, forcing evacuations and wiping out the local zoo. An 8-year-old boy was swept six blocks in an underground culvert in Duluth before he was spit out, safe, in a wooded area, reports the Duluth News Tribune. Several zoo animals were killed, including 11 at the petting farm when torrential rains flooded two-thirds of the facility. Close to 10 inches of rain fell in 24 hours. "Our entire staff is devastated," said a zoo spokesman yesterday. Victims included sheep, goats and a donkey. The raven and vulture cages were among the areas still under water, and until the flood recedes, workers can't make an accurate count of the losses. The seal was found on a nearby avenue, where a driver waited with the animal until help arrived. "He kind of looked like Snuffleupagus or a puppy dog," the driver told KARE-TV.

The polar bear, Berlin, was quickly tranquilized and taken to safety in a quarantine area. Animal lovers lamented the deaths on the zoo's Facebook page. Mayor Don Ness has declared a state of emergency. Much of Duluth, population 86,0000, is located on a steep hillside overlooking Lake Superior. The rains gushed down the slope, carrying tons of debris. "The water rushes down the hill, overwhelming our storm systems, our culvert system," Ness said. "It's a mess," said another city official. "We don’t even know the extent" of the damage "because it’s too dangerous to be out checking in some spots."