Zippity zoo day

The chilly and cloudy weather didn’t keep the smiles from people’s faces as they walked around Roosevelt Park Zoo in Minot and visited the animals. Saturday was the opening day of the zoo’s 2014 season.

“The weather has been a little against us,” said zoo director Dave Merritt, referring to the sudden change from sunny skies to cloud cover and a seeming drop in temperatures.

“We’ve had a little over 500 people here today,” he added. “And they all seemed to have enjoyed themselves.”

Not all of the animals were out on opening day, however. “We never have all of the animals out on opening day,” Merritt said. He said the primates have to wait until it’s 35 degrees outside all day. A lot of the animals have a cut-off temperature of 40 degrees before they’ll come out, Merritt said. He said all of the animals that could be outside in Saturday’s temperature were out.

Merritt pointed out that the waterfall was back in operation. It was the first time the waterfall was running since May 30, 2011.

“We have lots of construction going on,” Merritt said.

The zoology building is currently under construction, as are the otter and penguin exhibits. Construction on the otter exhibit will last throughout the summer.

“Construction on the otter and penguin exhibits would’ve started last fall, but we got jammed up,” Merritt said. “We’ll try to get it done by the end of this summer.”

He also said the City of Minot has had to replace the sewer line that goes through the zoo. He said that work is ongoing.

By the end of this summer, the zoo will be out of flood recovery and will be able to focus on future plans for the zoo. “We have all kinds of plans,” Merritt said.

Merritt said volunteers and zoo staff worked long hours getting the zoo ready for opening day.

“It will be an active summer,” Merritt said. “The big asset is that the people of Minot love their zoo.”

The zoo is open daily from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.