It had been years since my last trip to the Lake Superior Zoo — we used to visit regularly when our boys were younger, but the teen years bring a whole new round of interests and activities. With news of a recent birth, and a pleasant summer afternoon, I decided it was time to return and spend a couple of hours wandering the grounds. Perhaps you might like a peek at the star attraction? — a baby Angolan Colobus monkey!
During our visit, mama Kelly and daughter Kero carefully guarded the baby, almost a month old at the time we saw the family. Little did we know at the time that Kero was expecting an addition of her own, born just a few days after our visit!
I assume the melancholy fellow on the ledge is Kraemer, the father to both babies . . . he was a busy fellow five or six months earlier!
The Lake Superior Zoo is not large, but enjoys a picturesque setting, with Kingsbury Creek running through the grounds. This lovely creek turned into an unfortunate raging torrent of water during Duluth’s devastating flood of 2012, resulting in 14 animals losing their lives, including many barnyard animals.
A year later, it was wonderful to see that the Zoo has added many new animals, repaired and renovated much of the damaged grounds, and provided again a tranquil spot for families and visitors to spend a pleasant morning or afternoon.
Old favorites still reside at the Lake Superior Zoo, as well.
I always feel torn and conflicted when visiting zoos — observing wild animals who arguably should be enjoying their native and wild settings. However, properly managed zoos can play a critical role in preserving endangered species, and in educating the public on the importance of wildlife and habitat conservation. Many of the animals on display and residing in zoos would otherwise have met a premature end — such as Trouble, the Alaskan brown bear who had a penchant for breaking into the Alaska Zoo and no longer feared humans.
Would I rather see an Amur tiger in the wild? Of course I would. And, perhaps, some day I will! Is it more thrilling to see a wolf loping across an isolated highway in the Northwoods, as opposed to trotting around a large enclosure? No comparison! But, someone else may not have the opportunity to experience a wolf in its natural setting, and a zoo or preservation center might help provide a visitor with a new appreciation for that majestic creature, and inspire new efforts of conservation.
The next time you visit a zoo, I hope that you are reminded of another species or corner of this wonderful world that is worth preserving.
“In every remote corner of the world there are people like Carl Jones and Don Merton who have devoted their lives to saving threatened species. Very often, their determination is all that stands between an endangered species and extinction.
But why do they bother? Does it really matter if the Yangtze river dolphin, or the kakapo, or the northern white rhino, or any other species live on only in scientists’ notebooks?
Well, yes, it does. Every animal and plant is an integral part of its environment: even Komodo dragons have a major role to play in maintaining the ecological stability of their delicate island homes. If they disappear, so could many other species. And conservation is very much in tune with our survival. Animals and plants provide us with life-saving drugs and food, they pollinate crops and provide important ingredients or many industrial processes. Ironically, it is often not the big and beautiful creatures, but the ugly and less dramatic ones, that we need most.
Even so, the loss of a few species may seem irrelevant compared to major environmental problems such as global warming or the destruction of the ozone layer. But while nature has considerable resilience, there is a limit to how far that resilience can be stretched. No one knows how close to the limit we are getting. The darker it gets, the faster we’re driving.
There is one last reason for caring, and I believe that no other is necessary. It is certainly the reason why so many people have devoted their lives to protecting the likes of rhinos, parakeets, kakapos, and dolphins. And it is simply this: the world would be a poorer, darker, lonelier place without them.”
~ Mark Carwardine, Last Chance to See
Ciao! ~ Kat