On this regional public affairs program, a profile of the new Minnesota Zoological Garden in Apple Valley- what's there, how to get there, who's paying for it, and what's going to happen to Como Park Zoo? MPR’s Neal St. Anthony and Rich Dietman break down the various sections and zoo life on grounds.
Program includes interviews with zoo staff members and state officials.
Read the Text Transcription of the Audio.
This pretty little gal is right up here in front of us is the female sheep started out to be the Shire of the two, but she is now turned into the the real lover of the parent should love to come up and look at people and follow you around. So you can pretty much lead Heracross. She'll come up to the overhead viewing windows file your hand up there. The viewing windows here fairly unique design that you can see the wheels move back and forth in front of you, but you can actually see those who have over the top of your head and look down at you as she is right now. She is for skin wrinkles. July 10th temperature Crosstown bus where in the world could you spend a minute giggling at a wiggling whale the white beluga whale is constantly smiling and beguiling where in the world right here in Minnesota Zoo For All Seasons is opening spring of 78 in Apple Valley The New Zoo thanks to you. It's yours and Minnesota Zoological Garden. Minnesota has a new zoo and from the looks of it. It will indeed be a zoo For All Seasons situated on 480 Acres or gently Rolling Land. Just south of the Twin Cities the Minnesota Zoological Garden will offer visitors year-round viewing of several hundred animals and thousands of plants and for the most part it will provide that viewing from climate control and closures so that no matter how harsh the Minnesota winter outside exhibits can be seen in short sleeve comfort from enclosed walkways or monorail cars a great deal of thought has been given to the comfort of the animals at the new Zoo as well and according to zoo Information Specialist bevron, the way in which the animals are displayed will enhance visitor appreciation and understanding of the exhibits and weighs traditional zoos cannot I think one of the group should be displayed in ecological perspective or putting it another way. The animal group becomes a gym in the setting that is appropriate. And so to show an animal in a cage in a human environment like a little room doesn't lead people to understand the animals natural surroundings or its natural behavior or anything about it, which makes it unique and exciting and fascinating and we do know that fascination with animal life is so Universal kind of thing people of all lands are really interested in animals. They study animals that keep them and so forth its stuff is universal language really as music and so our philosophy here is to help people understand Animals by showing them in dignity and in a relationship to the environment that's appropriate and so each of these animal exhibits is designed to replicate the natural environment as closely as is possible. Animals will not be caged the vast majority will be presented in a setting that attempts to duplicate the animals natural habitat The New Zoo may be Loosely divided into six areas. They include a large outdoor display called the northern Trek unit moose. Muskox two-humped Bactrian camels Siberian tigers and the endangered Mongolian Wild Horse may be saying all are native to climate similar to Minnesota's and will easily whether our harsh Winters in contrast to the northern track the tropics attempts to duplicate a Southeast Asian setting over the rush of one of the Tropic several waterfalls. Can young naturalist in the zoo's education department describe some of what will be found in this Lush enormous Greenhouse right now, we're standing between exhibits for red panda and some sort of interesting we get them. This is the other Panda you could call him. It's not the giant black and white panda there would be no sense of smaller sort of crimson read some people think that a raccoon looking animal. That is the Lesser Panda the other side of us we have Large enclosure for the spotted leopard to move on we can see Burmese python a large long snouted crocodile called of false Gabriel a tree of white-cheeked Gibbons a troop of monkeys Malayan tapirs a walk-through Aviary free-flight Aviary special nocturnal exhibits small deer like animals as we're moving on to the plan things you get a whole range of figs and banana trees and palm trees and orange mango come quite a lot of fruiting species that were familiar the fruits. We haven't seen the plan on some 1,500 Orchid plants were scattered throughout the building hibiscus. I should be very beautiful. I think it'll be February March this time of the year. It'll be real Pleasant place to come. Another section of the new Zoo contains Wildlife native to Minnesota. This area will display owls Hawks Upland Sandpiper as well as a host of other animals including several water creatures. Perhaps most interesting in the Minnesota exhibit will be the Beaver Pond. It will afford visitors views from both below and above water and a video camera inside. The Beaver Lodge itself will allow you to see activity such as rearing of young activities not otherwise witnessed. The new Zoological Garden also has a Children's Zoo where domesticated animals such as sheep and goats can be pet and fed this and the staff education center will cater to school groups, finally and probably the most sought-out exhibit at least on first visit is sea life. It is here that the much-publicized beluga whales are found swimming in a large tank which resembles a rocky Cove in the Hudson's Bay Area from which they were taken Zoo officials are particularly proud of the viewing opportunities found in the sea life exhibits. Think it's the only place in the world where people will able to be able to see whales swimming look down on him look directly across from underwater viewing it windows and then look see them swimming overhead. And that is a particularly exciting Viewpoint and those whales come up and they look down on you from there from the overhead. They're very interested in people. I follow you from window to window. It's really fascinating to see those whales and it's the only place in the world that has constructed such a viewing arena for whale in the tropics. There will be dolphins and there's underwater viewing of the Dolphins. There's also an aquarium which will show something called elephant trunk snakes now, so presumably those are called elephant trunk snakes because they kind of look like a small elephant's trunk there water snakes and they've got very roughly skin which helps them grasp fish which they feed upon and that sometimes it They've been called wart snakes. But anyway, we'll have water steaks in an aquarium and The the dolphins underwater in the Minnesota exhibits. The beaver exhibit has underwater viewing of the Beaver Pond, which also will include forms of fish and some waterfowl. The otter exhibit has underwater viewing. There is also a separate Aquarium of strictly Minnesota fishes from the lakes and streams of Minnesota those that would be compatible with one another. We hope to have paddlefish. For example, very unusual. I think DNR has them at the State Fair most years. Well, this is an aquarium for you rather than looking down on them then and the interior Minnesota exhibits. There's several cutaways that show Pond life so Turtles and some other fish and even a little demonstration Pond where Greaves can be seen. Underwater show the whales and other Marine creatures will be easily observed some from as many as three different perspectives. We wondered though about the visibility of some of the other animals at the new Zoo which will be displayed in their natural habitat. Is it possible a visitor to the Zoological Garden may not see all the animals on exhibit. That's absolutely correct in many instances. You won't see all the animals that are in any given display. I sometimes you may not see any of them the zoo design the Contours have been arranged in such a way that we tried to facilitate viewing by having the nice little warm spots are protected spots that animals like to curl up in or an activity area. That's appropriate be In a location that is very visible from the viewer Pathway to try to negate some of that the fact that an area is large means that the animals maybe on the other side and we recognize that but we've tried to anticipate animals behavior in the places. They like to be in terms of where the sun is where the wind is where the warm and cool it would be and arrange the Contours and the activity areas in that way so that we hope that most of the animals will be visible a good part of the time comfortable spots which are also highly visible. The zoo designers have employed other strategies to enhance animal viewing one is to change day and night around for a better. Look at nocturnal species are there are two areas of the zoo that feature animals that are basically active during the night. And the way that's done is to shine bright lights through the exhibits during the night. So the animals sleep when we do and then the lighting during the visiting hours. Is that a gentle Moonlight of course visitors coming into the cave entrance will have to give their eyes time to adjust to the dim light and then walk through the walkway and look at the animal exhibits and you know as your eyes adjust to the dark, then you'll find quite a lot of activity because those animals will think it's night and they will be going about their normal activities in patterns can be used to make some animal activity coincide with visitor hours. He says is do technicians are already using this approach with a beluga whales periodically during the day they'll be feeding and they will be required to Do certain activities in order to get the food reward the activities that are being enhanced are natural activities swimming fast breaching is coming out of the water something else call spyhopping which whales do in the wild which is to get up a little bit out of the water and turn their heads, you know, and look around they're sort of seeing what's around and they can be you can train them so that they associate that with a food reward upon a given signal and so all of these basically natural activities can be utilized keep the animals mentally alert and healthy and also show people what the animals can do what they do do only we're using a food reward instead of whatever things might be occurring in the natural environment to make them do those thing. One of the things animals do in their natural environment that they don't always do in captivity is reproduce themselves though Zoo breeding success varies widely most animals prefer to mate and rear their young in private a major goal of the staff at the new zoo is to provide a habitat in which the delicate reproductive cycle can take place. In fact Zoo managers have turn down some animals because the zoo lack the proper habitat zoo naturalist. Can young a few species that we have considered having that have to this point never been kept successful in captivity. And so that when you make a decision want to see if we can't beat we're not justified in bringing that kind of animal to the zoo because we don't know enough about that animals needs yet to successfully maintain them in terms of bringing the animals together. You look very closely at the needs of an animal as much as we understand them in terms of breathing as it's the sociability. I think becomes very important. Is this an animal that is very solitary Francis the Malayan Paper which is an endangered species will be working with here is basically a very solitary animal. So in terms of their holding facilities of giving them five separate compartments. So the animals can Retreat from each other if you have something That's Amore social kind of animal like our troop of leaf eating monkeys you want to bring together or not just many different monkeys from all over the world and call that a true these animals say like a timberwolf which many of us are more familiar with have very firmly established family groups. They have dominant animals submissive animals male and female relationships younger and older and if you try and throw together unrelated animals, all you end up with is a mishmash of of unrelated behaviors and not very successful breeding for the most extent. We should mention here that because of its selective attitude The New Zoo will not have some of the animals traditionally associated with zoos. For instance. There will be no Lions elephants are hippos at the Zoological Garden. That's because planners feel at least for the present. They cannot provide adequate year. Habitat in our Northern climate for those large warm-weather creatures in keeping with the new zoos philosophy of catering to the animal in almost all instances creatures on exhibit will have a chance to get away by themselves for a while. There are secluded wooded Ravine John the northern track for the Tigers naturalist young says, there are also such Retreats available for animals in the tropics. One of the things that unique about this building is it there are whole other levels of holding areas directly beneath us when we can look at and fairly small and some senses exhibit area small because it makes it much easier to view the animal but there are secret entrances in various parts of the exhibit so that all the animals have access in the holding areas down underneath we can also work with a concept called shifting so that while you may see for instance in this crocodile exhibit, you may see two crocodiles in here today to come back tomorrow. You may also stay too, but they may be two different crocodiles so they can take turns being on exhibit the animals aren't the only creatures who Attitude has been considered by Zhu designers. The large Tropics building is laid out. So that despite crowds people to can have a feeling of isolation result of the pathway has lots of ups and downs and whines back and forth to take a surprisingly long walk through the size of this building that is to give you multi-level viewing so you can look down on the tops of the vultures and look up at them above you leave eating monkeys, you see from three different levels in the way the pathway wines back and forth be going around Banks of Rockin Around forested area so that you can feel somewhat more isolated. You become specially in certain areas become very unaware of the fact that there may be five thousand other people in the building here at the same time so you can a little bit more of a sense of wildness. There's some question as to how effective the cage lazoo will be in keeping animals and people apart dangerous animals, like the tigers and leopards will be contained by motzer modified cages. However, young says and some other cases Zoo management is less certain about the security of the new environment a lot of things different techniques the enclosures that have been planned for this Zoo are real New Concepts and we've been warned that we see some vulture walking down the hall somewhere. We know it's not a surprise we can call the animal staff and I'll come and get them going to be spending a many weeks before the zoo opens trying out these exhibits cuz you can never guess all of the Escape Routes the animals in the ones that find them we've heard a good bit now about what kinds of animals the zoo will exhibit and in what setting it will show them what we haven't asked is how are the animals acquired particularly rare species protected by international law Bev Rundgren says many are purchased from other zoos, but she adds there are exceptions. I just recently a two weeks ago zoologist and her associate director of plant and animal Sciences went to Panama to collect two species, which we could not get through negotiations with other zoos. One is a large colony of fruit bats and they are needed animals like got the opportunity to go and see them in quarantine, which usually don't but I just happened to be at the right place at the right time and they're just cute little things with cute faces and kind of velvety soft little bodies and we do have to bat exhibits at the other thing that they obtained and Panama I think two colonies of leaf-cutter ants for a Children's Zoo a leafcutter ants are interesting they cut in and make nests or store pieces of leaves and then feed on the fungus that grows on the lay their Farmers, they sort of they take their stuff and they build their nests. They Farm the old sections of leaves and they're quite large. They're very interesting to watch and we've got I hope a very exciting visual exhibit plan for the Children's Zoo is we find that children really really dig those kinds of thing as we mentioned earlier. There will be an entire section of the zoo set aside for children Garden officials. We spoke with say their facility will be the leading Zoo Education Center in the world. Materials that teachers can use in their classrooms prior to coming to the zoo and then have a field trip and then go back and continue with the unit in a summary sent after the field trip and over the next few years will be developing very specialized topics. It should eventually fit the needs of Any teacher at any grade level any place in Minnesota. There is a way that the zoo experience can be used to teach just about any subject mathematics. It doesn't have to be natural history or animal behavior can be Community planning. It can be art. It can be photography could be mathematics language arts, whatever and small exhibits in the teaching section these exhibits maybe approach more closely than those in the larger zoo and consequently, they provide a chance to examine things like live starfish and sea urchins Rundgren. Over 36,000 schoolchildren have already been scheduled for some sort of special educational experience at the zoo. That's the one. Day song Now that's the lamb where the understand what a woman might like to hear. What's love this is burning hot as a big gold $0.10 cigar. the most of John Cena gorilla He mostly we've told you a bit about what the zoo will have and look like there are some other areas we'd like to explore as well. Let's begin by tracing the evolution of the zoo how it's financed. How much will it cost to visit and What Becomes of Como Park Zoo The New Zoo is operated by the state. So illogical board or Department of the Minnesota state government, the 11 members of the board are appointed by the governor. The zoo director is Donald Bridgewater in 1969, the legislature authorized development of a master plan for a major state zoo and in 1973 about 26 million dollars in bond sales and other funds were approved by the legislature in May of 1974 ground was broken at the Apple Valley site Bev Rundgren describes why that particular location was chosen Animal behaviorist recognize that animals of different types need different types of spaces. Sometimes they need quite large spaces. If you're going to a develop a breeding program for a group of animals endangered in the wild particularly if it's a and herd animal you are going to want to look at the two to four to six to eight acres to have a reasonably sized heard that can have reproductive potential and so as a selection preceded this occurred in 1970-71 looking at several potential sites around the state each site was analyzed from a number of aspects. It was analyzed they were actually on Lies by computer top biographies size location. A lot of different variables were studied around the state. Mostly around the Twin Cities area. I know that somewhere north of the Twin City somewhere south of the Twin Cities and this site was chosen. It was donated by Dakota County the part of a parklet system that surrounds the zoo on two sides anyway the to the North and the east then there's residential areas on the west and on the south. We feel that this is an adequate site for the development of the zoo for many many years the development right now less than one-third of the actual acreage of the zoo. Lots of room for future expansion new animal exhibits breathing locations. Whatever would be the next step in a long-term planning program with public funds. It will be estate service. But operating revenues are supposed to finance annual expenses or staff and upkeep the zoo as a commodity in a sense. People are employed to sell it to the Public Zoo advertisements or seen on television and heard on radio Steve Schuster Zoo marketing director notes. The billboard space was bought within a 30 mile ring of the Twin Cities. The reason for that as we wanted people who were coming who were driving into the Twin Cities to start building awareness to start getting some awareness of the zoo. Nothing more than teaser copy, you know coming in the spring of 78 and Apple Valley The New Zoo. In addition to that we developed a number of broadcast public service announcements. We developed some specifically for radio and also others specifically for television. These were marketed if you will in a five-state area, they went to every radio station within the five state area and every television station in the five-state area, including Winnipeg and Thunder Bay Inn, Ontario, you would have to be well insulated to not know the zoo is opening. But at the same time that the facility is being promoted officials are concerned about overexposure Schuster said soon there will be little need to advertise because widespread media attention alone will initially attracted visitors marketing people fear. There may be a rush this spring followed by dwindling crowds this fall and winter. So the real zoo sponsored hype will not start until late summer official say and aggressive. Ad campaign then will spur attendance during traditional offseason times. It's our whole that by utilizing various Communications techniques is extensive promotions in the fall and winter. That we can drum up the kind of business that we need to lower the Peaks that are traditional and Ray is The Valleys that are also traditional so We're trying to do this to the extent of change of about 10% and other words were trying to were trying to our objective is to achieve 10% lower piece and 10% higher valleys. There is good reason to moderate attendance at the zoo too many people at one time could make for a cramp parking lots and congested roads during a summer day. For example, the zoo can accommodate no more than 12,000 people officials estimated because the zoo is removed from the core cities 18 miles from downtown Saint Paul people will carpool at a rate of 4 per vehicle that would work out to barely enough parking spaces on a heavy day. I think the best the best I could do in terms of an answer is that we're working very closely with the Minnesota Department of Transportation in many things and signage and capacity and vehicle flow and so forth. We're doing our level best to to make the existing roads handle. The kinds of traffic that we know they're going to get Steve Schuster the brunt of traffic entering and leaving the grounds will be routed on City and County Roads. Currently. There is only one entrance gate ready extension of Cedar Avenue from Minneapolis. And in addition to Interstate 35e will help but they won't be ready for several years according to State Transportation Department officials. 86% of the traffic will use local roads from the Twin Cities area. The main entrance Road. Just south of the zoo has been expanded to four lanes Ron Hoffman of the State Transportation Department notes that traffic tie-ups will likely occur about 1 mile north of the zoo. Are we anticipate during the peak hours of peak arrival periods and departure periods if there will be the course from congestion ER What that congestion will be recorded show depend upon a couple of things. First of all the demand that arise at the zoo because you're maybe they were demanding their capacity and after course will cause additional delays and congestion but we think it is a low level of service type with with congestion and you know, the traffic can be handling. The presence of these Hoffman of the transportation department would not predict the getaway time during peak hours. However, Zoo officials stress that additional stop lights and road signs will expedite traffic. Once you get there, it will cost $1 to park your car and admission varies with age admission fees have been a disputed issue initially the zoo board set a $3.50 gate for your for adults when certain legislators arch their eyebrows, the board contended the zoo could Finance itself only at that fee. But according to state representative Gordon Voss of Blaine High admission fees would discourage attendance 1977 legislature enacted a fee reduction. What they had was a fee structure based on age 0 2 for free Age 5 to $12 and a quarter in age 13 and up $3.50. And what we did was was change their fee structure 202-543-6216 a dollar and a quarter. So we increase the the age at which people would be considered youth there for part of the family are thought was this is primarily going to be a family function. We got a price it in that manner and then 17 and up would be adults $2.50. Representative Gordon Voss marketing director Schuster said the zoo board initially resisted a proposed gate fee reduction initially. It looks as though income was taken right out being a possible or potential gross income was eliminated a closer look a research shows us and I think this has to do with what we call elasticity of price shows us that there is some built-in elasticity here and that we can achieve And we are certainly going to strive to achieve our are self-sufficient of bases at the lower figure. It looks as though more people will attend the zoo at the 250 and the dollar in 1/4 figure and also the extended children's age category, Minnesota Zoo marketing director Steve Schuster. We should mention that a 20% admission discount is available for groups of 25 or more and school groups will be admitted free of charge by May 22nd estate you and I will have financed nearly 30 million dollars worth of construction and other expenditures at the zoo that does not include an additional appropriation for the two-year. That began July 1st 1977. But at the same time last year that the legislature granted more funds it took away the zoo boards autonomy according to representative boss, but we did is is when they were initially created their fund was essentially a dedicated fund that is that they Control over the over expenditures and that means that the other Revenue came in they made the decisions about whether or not they would build or not build or what they would do out there and what has happened now, we change the law in the Appropriations bill of last time. We change the law so that they now must come before us every two years to explain what it what their program is as a state agent just as a regular state agency. Still left them with a fun but the funding its expenditures are appropriated for the purpose of operating the zoo through the regular legislative appropriation process. So that state government will infect regularly examine their needs on the basis of need representative Varsity. Hope the zoo will not require additional State subsidies. The board is pledged to exist on gate Revenue boss noted. However that it is unlikely that gate receipts will retire the bonded debt or other past State Appropriations. And I put them in my apartment, you know how to dug a hole and everything for him. And I you know, I've refused to hang my head on this horn, you know, I kind of think some people are weird enough that the rhinoceros in the living room doesn't excite them. We used to have a rhinoceros. Take a rhinoceros for a walk in on some drunk always gets happy. Everybody ain't nobody around the hell out of there. Like so many people in the state have fond memories of the visit to Como Zoo. They're not the sophisticated. Enough to think that a zoo has to be a certain thing with traditional do suits them. All right so long as they can see a tiger or lion. Or a display that set up differently than the displays that they're using. And I think that there is enough of a variety there so we can do that. We also are apart of Comal Park which is a multiple use part and they are a single entity there. There's a zoo when you go there. To do you come to Como you could also go boating on the lake play tennis picnic and they fall feels and do Even writes what part of the animal park you see John Fletcher for more than 20 years director of Como Park Zoo in st. Paul Como Zoo is the traditional Zoo for most of us in this area it offered our first look at a tiger a monkey a free show by the venerable Sparky the seal. The New Zoo will not put Como out of business far from it the legislature has approved 3.7 million dollars in bonding Authority for the city of Saint Paul to upgrade Como a restoration plan is being studied by Zoo officials and neighborhood residents more bonding Authority likely will be forthcoming from the state all the facilities must be upgraded Fletcher concedes plans call for changes in the way. Some animals are exhibited but the zoo basically will retain a conventional display style nearly 1 million people troops through Como Zoo last year Fletcher said many people will continue to visit as we might be right now. We are doing very well in some of the breeding of endangered species went. So we have our own or rent a pair of our Rings over here that we've had for Offspring from the very limited cages if you have fun right now. We have a pair of gorillas that will be breeding producing young very shortly. And that exhibit isn't ideal either and is the main problem that the the conditions are too cramped for these animal Noah. I'm saying that the main problem is that because ideas about do displays of change personal Viewpoint. Value judgment essentially not for animals animals want to be probably are in a free state get along better. Some of them do someone become extinct and not all those are for people admission at Como is free with one exception it still cost $0.10 to enter the ape house. The zoo's budget is minuscule compared with a new zoos by Fletcher maintains his staff and is Tzu art of high-quality and he believes he'll compliment The New Zoo by offering different exhibits have Or a display that set up differently than the displays that they're using. And I think that there is enough of a variety there so we can do that. We also are apart of Como Park which is a multiple use Park and they are a single entity there. There's a zoo when you go there. To do you come to Como you could also go boating on the lake play tennis picnic and ball fields and do Even writes what part of the animal park you see and of course Como is centrally located and accessible by mass transit. However, we should mention that the Metropolitan Transit Commission plan service from Minneapolis. And st. Paul to the new zoo in Apple Valley in some while we anticipate the opening of The New Zoo those of us with fond memories of Como Park Zoo. May rest assured it too has a few of the Beaver exhibit here. I think this is going to be in a special. I need one. A lot of unique design has gone into this. There's a large dam in the center and Lodge in the back. We're going to send some started them for the beaver. So they know where we want them to to work on them. I will give them fresh cut trees to work with every day. So they have building material through various design aspects of the exhibit. We can raise and lower the water break a portion of the center part of the damn that was give them something new to work on. He mostly sits around contemplating all the things. Sound mixing of this program was by Lynn Crews. They'll chip Conley prepared the music with help from Jim add pool animal sounds provided by the residence of Como Park Zoo, the writers and narrators have been Rich demon and I'm Nils and Anthony. repeat. It don't seem right. It just don't see no no, no.