The Lake Superior Zoo, in Duluth, Minn., is grieving the loss of many animals during devastating floods that hit the city Tuesday night. About 9 inches of rain fell within 24 hours, sending floods of water to all the downhill areas of the city. The water tore up roads, flooded houses and buildings, and barraged animals at the Lake Superior Zoo. Because of concern about the weather forecast, a zoo guard stayed late Tuesday night to watch over the facility. Unfortunately, the creek became blocked shortly after the guard left, and the diverted water flooded many exhibits.

Zoo staff did not become aware of the problem until about 3 a.m., when a curious neighbor decided to investigate the area after reading several Facebook posts about flooding near his home. While Donald Melton was driving around the neighborhood, he came across a seal in the middle of Grand Avenue, and another surprised driver who was taking photos of it. The water had gotten high enough in the exhibit for two seals to swim out.

Status of many animals was not known for a while, as about 2/3 of the zoo remained underwater even after staff arrived. After some of the water subsided, it was revealed that all but one of the barn animals died, including goats, sheep, lambs and a donkey. A snowy owl and a turkey vulture also died in the flood, and a raven may have either died or escaped.

The Lake Superior Zoo polar bear, Berlin, managed to escape her exhibit during the flood. She did not exit the zoo’s perimeter, and the zoo’s veterinarian safely darted the bear before placing her in quarantine. Berlin and the seals are being transferred to Como Park Zoo in St. Paul, Minn., as a precautionary measure.

The flooding affected many other areas, as well, and has caused roadways to be shut down, including several sections of Interstate 35. Hundreds of residents were evacuated from flooded areas, and Gov. Mark Dayton declared a state of emergency following damage in eight counties.

Reports have shown that climate change results in more extreme weather, such as intensifying rainstorms, so we may be seeing many more sad events like this in the future.

Main photo credit: Sharon Mollerus/Flickr

Seal photo credit: Ellie Burcar

Video credit: CBS News Online