Minnesota Zoo launches drive-through to see animals during pandemic

Beastly Boulevard will serve as critical fundraiser for the zoo.
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The Minnesota Zoo has launched a new drive-through experience for people to see animals while supporting the zoo during the pandemic. 

It's called Beastly Boulevard and tickets go on sale Friday for the experience, which will run from 10 a.m.-4 p.m. from June 24-July 5. It's $25 per vehicle for members of the zoo and $50 per vehicle for non-members.

It's a limited event, with 500 vehicles per day allowed to drive on the walking paths of the zoo through a portion of the Northern Trail and Wells Fargo Family Farm, where visitors will be able to gaze from their vehicles at takin, bison, prairie dogs, pronghorn, Asian wild horses, camels, dholes, llamas, horses, cows and goats. 

During the drive, which takes about 20-30 minutes, zoogoers can follow along on the tour with an education booklet and sing along to an animal-themed playlist on Spotify, titled MN Zoo’s Beastly Boulevard Playlist.

Critical fundrasier

Beastly Boulevard will serve as a critical fundraiser for the zoo, which is running out of money due to the pandemic. 

“The zoo needs the support of our community now more than ever, and by driving through Beastly Boulevard, you are supporting the zoo and the thousands of animals that we care for every day,” Minnesota Zoo Director John Frawley said in a statement.

"We have been working hard to plan this experience and we are excited to be able to safely welcome guests back to the Minnesota Zoo in this unique way to reconnect with animals and nature.”

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The Minnesota Zoo has been closed since March 14 due to the coronavirus pandemic, so it hasn't been able to bring in revenue from ticket and concession sales. It has had to lay off dozens of workers and has been forced to canceled events, like the popular Music in the Zoo.

A state agency, the zoo typically gets about one-third of its operating budget from the state. And this week, FOX 9 reported the zoo asked the Minnesota Legislature for a $6 million bailout to cover losses it has incurred during the pandemic, with Gov. Tim Walz saying earlier this week that the zoo may have to move animals or close if it doesn't get financial support, 

There are other ways to support the zoo, which opened in 1978. People can also make financial contributions online here

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