Duluth, MN (Northland's NewsCenter) --- PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) is urging Duluth City Attorney Gunnar Johnson to file charges in connection with the death of 14 animals at the Lake Superior Zoo after Wednesday's flooding.
Gunnar Johnson says his preliminary investigation shows the flooding was caused by the failure of a rail road culvert designed to handle water flow at the zoo.
He does not believe zoo officials knew the culvert would give–way.
"It does not appear that there was any sort of negligence or cruelty involved in the death of these animals, rather it was a very unfortunate accident or you know, that the engineering of a third party caused or contributed to series of events that lead to the deaths of these animals."
Gunner said the zoo's recent re–accreditation shows the facility's commitment to quality care for their animals.
He added that his office takes animal cruelty allegations seriously, but that he does not believe at this point that this is a case of that.
In PETA's letter to the city attorney, they say that zoo officials left a donkey, several sheep, goats and birds in their enclosures that flooded when nearby Kingsbury Creek overflowed its banks.
PETA is accusing zoo officials that they must have been aware that the animals faced such danger since the same creek caused flooding at the facility in 2010.
Minnesota's animal protection laws define "cruelty" as "every act, omission, or neglect which causes or permits unnecessary or unjustifiable pain, suffering, or death" and state that anyone who deprives any animal of necessary shelter or causes or allows any animal to be unjustifiably injured or killed is in violation.
Here is the letter that was sent to City Attorney Gunnar Johnson from PETA:
June 21, 2012
The Honorable Gunnar Johnson
Duluth City Attorney's Office
411 W. First St., Rm. 410
Duluth, MN 55802
Dear Mr. Johnson:
We hope this letter finds you well.
PETA is an international animal rights organization with more than 3 million members and supporters globally. This letter concerns a June 20, 2012, incident during which a number of animals confined to the Lake Superior Zoo (7210 Fremont St., Duluth)—including a donkey, six sheep, four goats, a snowy owl, a turkey vulture, and a raven—were reportedly allowed to drown. Even though the city had been issued a flash-flood warning the evening prior and even with having already experienced such an event in 2010, zoo officials still failed to take any effective measures to protect the animals from this horrific fate.
We believe Lake Superior Zoo's negligence to be a violation of Minnesota's cruelty-to-animals statute, Chapter 343.29, which defines "cruelty" as "every act, omission, or neglect which causes or permits unnecessary or unjustifiable pain, suffering, or death" and which provides that anyone who deprives any animal of necessary shelter or causes or allows any animal to be unjustifiably injured or killed is in violation.
On behalf of our thousands of members in Minnesota, we respectfully request that your office do everything in its power to ensure that those responsible for this predictable, preventable tragedy are charged appropriately.
I can be contacted at 207-475-6731 or KristinSimon@peta.org. Thank you for your time and consideration.
We hope to hear from you soon.
Senior Cruelty Caseworker
Cruelty Investigations Department