The Roosevelt Park Zoo is in need of cleanup and volunteers are welcome.
The zoo sustained heavy damage from last summer's flood, which has left it without animals for the time being. Meanwhile, the staff and other volunteers have been cleaning up the zoo grounds.
A group of people from the Minot Air Force Base help with cleanup every year, said Jordan Wald, the hoof stock keeper. This year, the group approached Jennifer Fry, the education outreach coordinator for the zoo, and she coordinated the cleanup from there.
Jill Hambek/MDN • The Roosevelt Park Zoo is in need of some cleanup after last summer’s flood. The zoo staff and other volunteers have been cleaning up the zoo grounds. Cleanup sessions have been taking place mainly on the weekends from 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., but the zoo will also take appointments during the week if a group wants to help then. A group of volunteers from the Minot Air Force Base have also been helping with the cleanup.
So far, around 300 to 500 people have helped in the cleaning efforts, Wald said, and hopefully more will come to help. Wald said some might be repeat volunteers.
On a weekend, though, there are 100 to 150 volunteers who show up to help, Wald said, and the base brings in about 60.
A majority of the people who help will put in a full eight-hour day, usually from 7:30 a.m. to 4 p.m., said Brandi Clark, vet tech and general coordinator for the zoo. Some of the volunteers come and go, staying for however long they can, added Clark. "The air force base guys put in full days. They're awesome," she added.
The weekends are when most people volunter, Clark said, but the zoo also takes appointments during the week.
The staff started cleaning up the zoo in early fall of last year and again on March 21, and figured out what kind of work needed to be done and which tools would be needed, Wald said. "We've been cleaning the zoo for about a month now," he added.
Wald said the staff wanted to focus on the children's zoo. "We hope to have part of the zoo open for part of the summer. That would be such an achievement for us," he said. There isn't one specific area of the zoo that needs the most cleaning, either, Wald said, because cleanup is needed everywhere.
Wald said it's hard to estimate how long it will take to clean up the entire zoo. They didn't expect the volunteers to help as much as they have, he said, and they've gone above and beyond expectations. He said cleaning up the zoo will be an ongoing process for a good majority of the summer and they're cleaning it in sections, which will help everyone see the progress that's being made.
The zoo will also have contractors coming in to fix some of the buildings, Wald added. "As staff and volunteers, we want to be ready to do what the contractors want. We want to be ready for anything," he said.
There's still painting that needs to be done as well, Wald said. They started with the groundskeeping and silt removal and the rest will be contracted out, so they're transitioning into a painting phase now, he said. Wald also added the pathways are the main area of the zoo that people see and that will also be worked on. A lot of when they can plant is at the mercy of nature, he said, and the pathways will have a different look this time.
Most difficult in the zoo cleanup project has been the silt removal, Wald said, because it's labor-intensive and back-breaking work. Painting isn't easy, either, he added, and the whole cleanup is hard work. "We've been lucky to have nice weather so far, though," he said.
Wald said one of the most surprising aspects to come from the zoo cleanup project is the amount of work they've gotten done in the amount of time they've been working. "There's plenty to do, but organization also goes along with it and we have to keep on top of it so we know what tools we'll need," Wald said.
It's hard to tell how long the zoo cleanup weekends will last, Wald said, but this summer should be a good summer for them. "We can do the work, but we have to work around mother nature," said Wald. "We'll do the best we can this summer."