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Ely's North American Bear Center breaks ground on $1 million expansion

The North American Bear Center in Ely broke ground on its $1 million, 8,000-square-foot expansion Sunday afternoon. Bear Center staff and volunteers; government officials from Ely, neighboring townships and St. Louis County; and other community l...

Groundbreaking
Ground is broken for a $1 million expansion of the North American Bear Center in Ely on Sunday afternoon. Those taking part included bear center staff; local and county government officials; and Ely community leaders, among others. (Photo courtesy of Jim Stroner)

The North American Bear Center in Ely broke ground on its $1 million, 8,000-square-foot expansion Sunday afternoon.

Bear Center staff and volunteers; government officials from Ely, neighboring townships and St. Louis County; and other community leaders took part in the ceremony at the center on Minnesota Highway 169 a mile west of town.

The addition to the research, education and exhibit facility will nearly double the center's size. It will house classrooms, offices, exhibit space, a multimedia room and a broadcast facility for video lectures. It is slated to be completed by May.

Donations from fans of the center and the bears it monitors -- including Lily, who famously gave birth to a cub in early 2010 while people around the world watched online -- are helping pay for the expansion.

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