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Duluth City Council approves plans for smaller Lake Superior Zoo


A revamped, smaller Lake Superior Zoo is closer to becoming a reality.

Following months of hearings, the Duluth City Council unanimously approved a concept plan for the zoo and Fairmount Park on Monday night, KBJR 6 reports.

The $15.8 million project would reduce the zoo from 19 acres to bout 10 acres, as well as create an open-access park. See the final concept drawings here.

The council's approval means officials can move forward with "final mini-master plans," FOX 21 says, and start looking into ways to fund the multi-million dollar redo.

The Lake Superior Zoological Society has a bonding request for $1.9 million to help renovate and re-purpose the polar shores exhibit, which has sat empty for years, according to the BuildMN website.

Julene Boe, interim CEO of the Lake Superior Zoological Society, plans to head to St. Paul this week to meet with legislators about the zoo's funding request, reports note.

Zoo officials are excited the city council approved the concept plan, with Boe telling FOX 21: "It ensures that we are still going to have a quality zoo" and she said it makes her happy the Lake Superior Zoo won't be turned into a "little petting zoo in the corner."

Initially, officials had considered some non-animal options for the zoo, among other proposals.

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Lake Superior Zoo reopening

It's been more than three weeks now since Feisty the seal and Berlin the polar bear rode the floodwaters out of their zoo enclosure and into a media spotlight. Their Polar Shores exhibit remains empty while officials at the Duluth zoo decide whether to revive it. But the rest of the Lake Superior Zoo reopens to visitors Friday for the first time since the flood. One official calls it a step toward a return to normalcy.