Lake Superior Zoo Inspection Complete

By KBJR News 1

June 24, 2011 Updated Jun 24, 2011 at 6:47 PM CDT

Officials with the facility say the inspectors from the Association of Zoos and Aquariums spent timing walking around, looking at the exhibits, and say they were encouraged by the feed back they got.

For Joe and Marie Rule from Cottage Grove, they can see the changes that have taken place at the Lake Superior Zoo since their visit around five years ago.

"It is surprising and it looks really good. I don't remember exactly what was here then, but this is good, or better than I remember," said Joe Rule, visiting the facility from Cottage Grove.

And that's what zoo officials have been striving for.

After losing their accreditation in 2006, employees and administration at the zoo have been working tirelessly to get it back.

"They told us that all the improvements that have been made over the years were very evident; they thought that we really looked like a zoo that understood what it meant to be accredited," said Lake Superior Zoo CEO, Sam Maida.

Accredited zoos are part of an elite group as only 10 percent of licensed zoos and aquariums are accreted by the AZA.

"It's just not a matter of animal care, it's the whole package; what we are doing with education, what we are doing with guest services, what we are going with our marketing and our future," said Director of Animal Management Peter Pruett.

Long hours, hard working employees, and community support have helped get the Lake Superior Zoo ready for this important inspection but officials here say the work isn't done.

"We are going to work on the list of concerns they have given us. We are excited, we are very pleased, we're enthusiastic, we're pumped up, we're going to get this job done," said Maida.

It's an elite group of zoos this local gem hopes to join, but is sure to have continued support from visitors no matter the outcome later this summer.

"This is more lively, there is something for everybody," said Betty May, visiting the Lake Superior Zoo from Iowa.

Officials with the zoo say they are confident that after working non stop to get ready for the inspection.

They are confident they will be able to address the concerns by the AZA within the next few weeks.

one of things that will need to be addressed before September is an institutional collection plan which helps drive the zoo by determining the facility's master plan, when, how and types of animals come to the zoo, which then determines the programs at the facility.

This winter was the first attempt at the institutional collection plan for the facility