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Grant will pay for new deck at zoo

The Duluth City Council is poised to accept a $33,000 state grant Monday that will be used to rebuild the deteriorated tiger observation deck at the Lake Superior Zoo.

The Duluth City Council is poised to accept a $33,000 state grant Monday that will be used to rebuild the deteriorated tiger observation deck at the Lake Superior Zoo.

Weathered and crumbling with unsafe sections cordoned off, the concrete deck in the back of the main zoo building gave a bad first impression to visitors. It's among the many repairs needed to help the zoo regain accreditation lost in 2006.

The one-time reimbursement grant from the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources was appropriated by the Minnesota Legislature this year. The grant must be used by June 30, 2010.

The city will use the money to pay for the deck work.

When the city handed over zoo operations to the nonprofit Lake Superior Zoological Society earlier this year, it also passed on responsibility for a host of problems and needed repairs. The deteriorated tiger deck is among deferred maintenance that includes tilting fences, cracked pavement and 1930s-era stone pedestrian bridges in need of repairs.

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But the city did commit to making a couple of repairs this year -- repairing the Polar Shore exhibit's life support system and fixing the tiger observation deck. Besides overlooking the tiger exhibit, it serves as an outdoor sitting and eating area and provides a panoramic view of the zoo grounds.

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