The Roosevelt Park Zoo has been closed for two seasons, but the staff and officials are working steadily to get the zoo and animals back by next spring.
The zoo has been closed since it was flooded in June 2011.
The animals that were being housed at the Dakota Zoo in Bismarck will be returning to Roosevelt Park Zoo soon. David Merritt, zoo director for Roosevelt Park Zoo, said they had to wait for the clinic building to get finished and able to have occupancy and now the building has that. Things were a little behind schedule, he added.
The zoo entrance, shown here, will be ready to open its gates to visitors next spring after being closed for the past two seasons. The animals were sent to various zoos across the United States, although about 50 to 60 animals have been returned to Minot’s zoo.
This sign, updating the zoo’s current status, can be found in various places along the main gate of the Roosevelt Park Zoo. The zoo has been closed for the past two seasons, but has plans to be open next spring.
Five primates and the pelicans are being kept at the Dakota Zoo in Bismarck and will be back in the Minot zoo in about two weeks, Merritt said.
In order to prepare for the return of the primates and pelicans, the whole clinic building at the Roosevelt Park Zoo needed to be redone, Merritt explained. It's a complex building, he noted, including maintenance, the food preparation area, refrigerator and freezer space, the quarantine and medical holding area, and the holding area for giraffes, among other things, he said.
"It looks beautiful, but we have to get set up," he said.
The primates and pelicans are not the first animals to return to their Roosevelt Park Zoo home, however. About 50 or 60 of the animals that were being kept at the old Tollefson's warehouse north of Minot have returned to the zoo, said Merritt. The wolves and the eagles, which were in Bismarck, are also back at the Minot zoo now, he added.
"We're hoping to get another couple of buildings done here soon," Merritt added.
Merritt said they're hoping for the bears and all of the large cats to be returned to the zoo, which will be the next step. They would possibly get the warthogs back, too, if the construction gets done, he added.
Some of the animals will not be coming back to Roosevelt Park Zoo, but they're hard to identify at this time, Merritt noted. The African goats have passed on, but Roosevelt Park Zoo will be getting a Chinese species of goats to fill the space, he said.
"By later this week, we're hoping to have electricity on half of the campus," Merritt said. "We have a lot done, but still have a lot to be done."
They have also had a lot of volunteers, over 2,000 individual sign-in volunteers, he added, and volunteers are still needed. The work holding things up now is the electrical part, Merritt said.
Roosevelt Park Zoo plans to be open next spring, Merritt said.
"We should have enough of a zoo for people to come to the zoo. We're sick of being closed," he said.
The most exciting part about the zoo's reopening will be seeing kids back on the zoo campus, Merritt said.
"We're staying busy everyday to try and move a step forward."