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Duluth zoo animals will get those pearly whites checked, thanks to donation

The gift helps replace equipment the zoo lost in a flood nearly five years ago.

It's tough to find the budget for fancy dental equipment when you're just trying to keep your head above water.

Nearly five years after floodwaters tore through Duluth's Lake Superior Zoo, the rebuilding effort is getting a boost from a group of veterinarians – ones who care for animals' teeth, in particular.

The zoo announced Thursday that a grant of $9,500 from the Foundation for Veterinary Dentistry has helped it buy equipment and supplies to improve the dental care of its animals.

The foundation works with the public, with vets, and with veterinary colleges to raise the profile of veterinary dentistry.

Their "Make Me Smile" program focuses mostly on animal shelters to help them get dogs and cats ready for adoption.

Dr. Michael Overend of the Lake County Veterinary Clinics in Two Harbors and Grand Marais helped arrange for the donation to the zoo, KBJR reports.

Equipment replaces items lost in flood

The zoo – or much of West Duluth, for that matter – has not been the same since the night in the summer of 2012 when nine inches of rain fell.

Floodwaters from Kingsbury Creek killed 14 of the zoo's animals and washed away some buildings. A couple of harbor seals gained fame that night when they rode the high water right out of their enclosure and were eventually found out on Grand Avenue.

Parts of the zoo, such as the polar bear enclosure, were not rebuilt. The Lake Superior Zoological Society, which operates the city-owned zoo, now has a plan for redeveloping the zoo on a smaller footprint in Fairmount Park.

But keeping its head above water financially is also a challenge for the zoo and it needed an emergency infusion of cash from the city last fall to stay afloat.

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