DULUTH, Minn. (WCCO) — Nearly a month after flooding washed out much of the Northland, a Duluth zoo is celebrating a big step forward.

The floodwaters washed out the barnyard exhibit at Lake Superior Zoo and damaged the polar bear and seal habitats. Fourteen farm animals drowned, including goats, sheep and a donkey named Ashley.

“I see our animals as our peers,” said Peter Pruett, the zoo’s director of animal management. “We’re here for them and they’re here for us.”

The only barn animal from the zoo that survived was a mini-horse named Darla.

The Lake Superior Zoo says its main building and a good portion of the grounds have now been fixed up.

Pruett said overcoming the recent hardship will, in the end, make the zoo an even more special place. Friday marks the first time since the flood the zoo is back open for guests.

Two seals and a bear are temporarily staying at Como Zoo in St. Paul.

Cleaning up the city of Duluth is expected to cost around $80 million, but the tourism board says most of the city is already ready for visitors.

In the city’s Fond du Lac neighborhood, dozens of volunteers from around the nation have come to help residents repair their homes, many of which are still uninhabitable.

Ross Popol is one such volunteer. He said the resident’s positive attitude has helped speed up the recovery.

“They’ve been amazing, so strong-willed,” he said. “And they’ve been working right alongside us.”

Other areas of the Northland are also recovering.


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