MN Zoo Gets Grizzled Facelift

MN Zoo Russia's Grizzly Coast
I’m a huge fan of the Minnesota Zoo. I’ve been going there since before I could walk and have been a member of the Zoo for five years now. We know it so well now that my family will now go just to see one exhibit, just check out the farm, or maybe only look at the monkeys and eat a picnic lunch.

This weekend was our first trip to the zoo since their new Russia’s Grizzly Coast exhibit opened, and since I’ve been avoiding all news coverage and conversation about it on purpose, I went in with a completely fresh perspective.

First off, the new water sculpture in the main plaza in front of the monorail station is beautiful and extremely functional. Note to self: pack extra dry clothes for the kiddo next time.
MN Zoo Russia's Grizzly Coast
Even the new manhole covers are decorative.
MN Zoo Russia's Grizzly Coast
Upon entering the new exhibit, I immediately recalled memories of the National Zoo in DC — particularly around the panda exhibit, with its cavernous walkway and audio sound effects added to the aural mix.

The sea otter exhibit features floor to ceiling windows, so you can get a good look at the frisky critters underwater. But I’m less enamored with otters and headed straight for the grizzlys. As we entered the brown bear exhibit, the most noticeable thing was all of the people jammed into an exhibit at 10 a.m. on a Saturday. The zoo was a happening place, and this was the exhibit of the day.
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MN Zoo Russia's Grizzly Coast
One of the three bears (Sadie, Haines and Kenai, all orphaned as cubs in Alaska), was sitting calmly in front of the glass watching the crowd. He was almost more interested in us than we were in him. The other two playfully wrestled toward the back of the exhibit. I’m not sure if mornings are just better for active animals — maybe the weather was just perfect — but all the animals we encountered were extremely active and affable.
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And look how close you can get to them:
MN Zoo Russia's Grizzly Coast
After the grizzly exhibit is a children’s play area where kids can dig up bones in the sand. After brushing the sand out of my sandals, we headed over to the wild boars, which were actually much smaller than I thought they would be. I’m picturing Mason Verger feeding Hannibal Lecter to them and just not buying it so much now.
MN Zoo Russia's Grizzly Coast
The last animals in the exhibit, the amur leopards, were hiding. There was a small sign that stated they were still adjusting to their new environs. If they’re anything like my cats after a big move, they’ll take another week or so to come out of hiding.

Although last summer’s Minnesota Trail redux was a newish highlight worth checking out, I can say Russia’s Grizzly Coast is worth the “unbearable” trip to Apple Valley in itself.

3 Comments so far

  1. Erica M (ericam) on June 23rd, 2008 @ 11:07 am

    Awesome photos, Greg! :)


  2. Art (artallen) on June 23rd, 2008 @ 11:24 am

    Woo Zoo!

    The MN Zoo is one of my favorite summertime activities. I can’t wait to see this exhibit! Glad to hear you approve :)


  3. Zoo Blogging (pt. 2) | Minneapolis Metblogs (pingback) on June 29th, 2008 @ 5:02 pm

    […] the Minnesota Zoo is always a favorite, there‚Äôs a special place in my heart for the Como […]



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