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Sparky the Sea Lion, a fixture at St. Paul’s Como Zoo since 1956, was squeezed out of the bill, but the state-owned Minnesota Zoo will get $12 million for its continuing renovation and remodeling campaigns.
Como Zoo had been seeking $13.8 million, to be augmented by another $1 million in private donations, for a new habitat to be attached to its Marine Mammal Building.
But while Como Regional Park got $5.4 million for road and other transportation improvements, and St. Paul got bonding funds for other major projects, the zoo improvements got nothing this session.
State Rep. Alice Hausman, DFL-St. Paul, chairwoman of the Capital Investment Committee, said while that was a personal disappointment, there were too many other priorities in the city and not enough money to go around.
“That’s the dilemma — at a certain point, you can’t just put an endless amount of money into just one city,” Hausman said.
Of the Minnesota Zoo’s take, about $3 million will be used to complete the renovation of the area that was formerly home to the zoo’s dolphins. The new exhibit will feature rare seals, said Beth Burns, chief external relations officer for the zoo. About $4 million will be used to repair and renovate the 36-year-old zoo buildings and campus, Burns said, and another $5 million was designated for the design and planning of renovations to the main visitor’s building, including better bathrooms, lighting and benches.
For a full breakdown of the bonding bill’s projects, see www.tinyurl.com/pcx5f9w.
Pat Pheifer • 952-746-3284
Staff writers Jim Anderson, Kim McGuire, Erin Adler and Laurie Blake contributed to this report.