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Minnesota Zoo Closes Dolphin Exhibit For Repairs

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(credit: CBS) Reg Chapman
Reg Chapman joined WCCO-TV in May of 2009. He came to WCCO fr...
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APPLE VALLEY, Minn. (WCCO) — The Minnesota Zoo will close one of its most popular exhibits in order to begin significant repairs to Discovery Bay. Unfortunately, the closure means the zoo’s dolphins will be relocated to another facility.

After 15 years, the zoo’s Discovery Bay is in need of major renovations after years of salt water caused damage to the pools and atmosphere. Thanks to a 2012 Capital Investment bill being signed by Gov. Mark Dayton, $4 million will go to the zoo for preservation needs.

In order to make the necessary repairs, however, the zoo’s dolphins, “Allie” and “Semo” will be relocated to another facility and the exhibit will be closed. Semo is currently the oldest living male dolphin in human care.

“Salt water is not kind to concrete or to the steel that’s in it, so we have some major infrastructure repair,” said Lee Ehmke, Minnesota Zoo director.

The zoo will announce when the dolphins are scheduled to move so that fans can come and say goodbye.

Monica Jansen said she’ll be sad to see them go.

“I’m going to miss em,” she said. “I think they add so much to the experience.”

The new upgrades to the tank won’t house dolphins once the upgrades are completed but the zoo says they are looking into other aquatic animals that could call the tank home.

“We only want to exhibit animals in correct social situations and right now, there is no possibility of obtaining a good social group of bottlenose dolphins to come back to this exhibit,” Ehmke said.

Zoo officials say a plan should be developed early this summer for the repairs and renovation.

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