Dozens flow in at outset of Minnesota Zoo reopening

  • Article by: PAUL WALSH , Star Tribune
  • Updated: July 5, 2011 - 9:25 AM

The Minnesota Zoo dodged the state government shutdown bullet and reopened Sunday, thanks to a judge's ruling over the weekend, and dozens of patrons filed through the entrance in the opening moments.

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2-year-old Liam Shamblott was in awe of the tropics fish tank with many varieties of sharks and ocean fish

Photo: Brian Peterson, Star Tribune

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The Minnesota Zoo dodged the state government shutdown bullet and reopened Sunday, thanks to a judge's ruling over the weekend, and dozens of patrons filed through the entrance in the opening moments.

"We are excited to announce that we reopened our doors at 9 a.m. this morning," said Kelly Lessard, spokeswoman for the zoo in Apple Valley. "It's a beautiful day to visit the Minnesota Zoo."

About 75 people entered the zoo in the first moments of business Sunday, Lessard said.

"I cannot thank [Ramsey County District] Judge [Kathleen] Gearin enough for her thoughtful consideration and timely disposition in this case," said Lee Ehmke, the zoo's director and CEO.

Gearin agreed with the argument posed by the zoo's attorneys, who said it should be able to open using a state law that directs zoo gate revenue back to the facility. Because it has a standing appropriation, they said, it should be allowed to open.

Although the zoo isn't a "core function" of state government, it doesn't require a legislative appropriation to operate, Gearin found.

However, Canterbury Park's bid to continue horse races at its Shakopee track was shot down. Gearin issued an order denying the track management's request to be included among so-called essential state functions. She also denied the petition filed by owners of the Running Aces harness racing track in the north metro area that would have allowed it to stay open.

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