A dating service for zoo animals

  • Article by: KATY READ , Star Tribune
  • Updated: April 28, 2012 - 9:10 PM

A pair of grizzly bears enjoyed some toothy play at the Russia's Grizzly Coast exhibit at the Minnesota Zoo in Apple Valley.

Photo: David Joles, Star Tribune

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Trumpeter swan seeks same for serious relationship. Enjoys walks on the beach and mating with a genetically appropriate partner, with the goal of being reintroduced into the wild to help reestablish the species.

OK, so that's not exactly how the Minnesota Zoo goes about it. But as part of a worldwide network of zoos working to revive threatened populations, it does help animals find mates.

"We're a dating service for zoo animals," said Lee Ehmke, the zoo's director and CEO.

The zoo is a museum of living creatures, and wants to keep them that way. The trumpeter swan is one such success. Once vanished from much of its Upper Midwest habitat, the bird is now thriving again.

Preserving species also requires educating the creatures on the other side of the fences, 1.3 million of whom visited the zoo last year.

"Every one of them, whether they know it or not, is probably getting a sense of appreciation for these other beings," Ehmke said. "That can translate into concern, and eventually into action."

Katy Read • 612-673-4583


    13000 Zoo Blvd., Apple Valley, 952-431-9200, 1-800-366-7811, www.mnzoo.com

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