Grand reopening – Minot zoo ready for visitors

Seven-year-old Anastasia Davis and her sister Linda Davis, 4, said they’re looking forward to visiting all of the animals at the Roosevelt Park Zoo this summer.

Their mother, Rose Davis, said the family visited the zoo at Christmas when they had hayrides and a petting zoo. However, the family moved to Minot from Michigan about a year ago and has never had the chance to see the zoo at full capacity.

“Now we’re going to see all of them this summer,” said Rose Davis.

The Davis family was among hundreds of Minot residents who came to the zoo for its grand reopening on Saturday. The zoo was heavily damaged in the Souris River flood of 2011 and it has taken two years to get to this point.

“A lot of hard work has gone into getting ready for today,” said zoo director David Merritt, who credited zoo staff and volunteers with helping to ready the zoo grounds for the celebration. About a week ago, snow was still on the ground, he pointed out.

Merritt said the poor weather in April has delayed some projects at the zoo, such as transporting animals back to the zoo grounds and completing work on animal enclosures. Only about 40 percent of the zoo’s animals are back at the zoo.

On the bright side, Merritt said that visitors will keep seeing changes at the zoo throughout the summer, as animals are transported back to the zoo and take up residence in their old homes.

“It’ll be sort of a summer filled with surprises,” said Merritt.

Mayor Curt Zimbelman, speaking at the grand reopening ceremony on Saturday morning, said Minot residents are ready for the zoo to reopen.

“I can see people enjoying this all summer long,” he said.