Reporting John Lauritsen
ST. PAUL, Minn. (WCCO) — Not even the Como Zoo is immune to vandals. Just before 4 a.m. Thursday morning a security guard noticed a donation box was knocked over and called police.
Police arrived and found half a dozen other buildings and properties were damaged, too.
“We love the zoo. It’s a great all-around family experience. And with a day like today in Minnesota you can’t beat it,” said Dewey Lane, who was visiting with his three kids.
The Como Zoo will see thousands of guests on a day like this one. But before it even opened Thursday morning there was activity. Two unwanted guests snuck in and did their share of damage.
“It appears these two people damaged some of the properties while trying to get into them. There were some cash boxes and cash registers that had been damaged,” said John Keating, spokesman for the St. Paul Police Department.
When police arrived, they saw two men running from the zoo entrance but they got away. Once inside, police saw the vandals had tried to steal money from one of the zoo’s main attractions. The polar bear donation box had been knocked over and some money had spilled out. How much was taken is unclear.
They also tried to break into a concession building, a food building and a gift shop. No animals were stolen or hurt, and overall the damage was minimal. But for zoo visitors, it’s the principle that matters. These vandals put a black mark on a family place.
“I think they need to find something better to do. A place like this that tries its best to be free and economical for families — it’s a pretty bad thing to do this,” Lane said.
Visitor Sue Johnson agreed.
“No need to be stealing here. Everything’s free. Come and enjoy it and have a good time and don’t do any damage,” she said.
Police are trying to determine how much money was taken, but they don’t think it was much.
They are also looking at the zoo’s surveillance video to see if they can identify who broke in.