Changing times at the Lake Superior Zoo
In the 85 years since Duluth debuted its first zoo, many things have changed. It's certainly grown since West Duluth business-man Bert Onsgard got permission from the city to construct a pen for Billy, his pet deer, in 1923. Over the next 85 year...
In the 85 years since Duluth debuted its first zoo, many things have changed.
It's certainly grown since West Duluth business-man Bert Onsgard got
permission from the city to construct a pen for Billy, his pet deer, in 1923.
Over the next 85 years more buildings would be constructed and the animal collection would grow, at different times featuring lions, polar bears, elk, moose, hyenas, leopards, snow leopards, an elephant and even an Indian Mongoose named Mr. Magoo that was pardoned by President Kennedy in 1963.
Long-time West Duluthian Jeanne Koneczny remembers hearing her mother tell her about collecting pennies to buy the elephant when she was in elementary school.
Koneczny is hoping the Duluth City Council members will vote to turn over management of the zoo to the Lake Superior Zoological Society at Monday's council meeting.
"I think it's a no-brainer: They should turn it over to the zoological society," she said. "If they don't do that, then (Mayor) Ness should bite the bullet and close it down the next day instead of keeping everybody hanging."
While the vote is in the council's hands, Lake Superior Zoological Society Executive Director Maida points out that the future of the zoo will ultimately be determined by the people.
He holds out an envelope. Inside, two quarters and 10 pennies are taped to a piece of notebook paper.
"This doesn't look like much, but it speaks volumes," he said. "This 60 cents is like a million bucks. That's the kind of grassroots caring for the zoo that we think is out there."