Lake Superior Zoo

Known for the variety of animal exhibits and educational opportunities, the Lake Superior Zoo offers something to everyone. Located in Duluth, Minnesota, the Lake Superior Zoo is often regarded as one of the top attractions within the city of Duluth. Photo: Tanya/Fotolia



In 1923, Bert Onsgard petitioned the city of Duluth to grant him a specialized area dedicated to his pet deer, Billy. The city of Duluth granted Onsgard’s wish, and constructed a pen for his deer. After Billy’s pen was built, Onsgard developed the idea of creating a zoo for the Duluth community. His idea spread like wildfire. Within a blink of an eye, members of the community rallied together to make the idea of creating a zoo a reality.

The Duluth Zoo came together with the help of the community. Various businesses donated materials and land. Citizens of Duluth, schools, and other organizations donated animals or funds to acquire animals. Throughout the 1930s and the 1940s the Duluth Zoo became one of the most popular attractions within Northern Minnesota. Official buildings even began to pop up throughout the Zoo, which stimulated the attraction of new animals and exhibits.

In 1985 the Duluth Zoo was awarded with official accreditation from the Association of Zoos and Aquariums. This signified the Duluth Zoo’s place as among the top 10% of zoos within the United States. Between the Duluth Zoo’s new accreditation, recognition, and regional significance, the Zoo changed its name to the current name, the Lake Superior Zoo. Two years later, the city of Duluth awarded the Lake Superior Zoo with $7 million to create a new and contemporary facility focused on Northern climate animals.

It wasn’t until the early 2000s that the Lake Superior Zoo experienced conflicts. One of the most devastating events for the Lake Superior Zoo was the revocation of their accreditation from the Association of Zoos and Aquariums in 2006. In order to regain the Zoo’s status and accreditation, the city of Duluth resigned and let the Lake Superior Zoological Society take over as owners of the Zoo. It wasn’t until fall 2011 when the Lake Superior Zoo regained their Association of Zoos and Aquariums accreditation. Photo: Chang/Fotolia

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Spread out across a vast area of land, the Lake Superior Zoo is home to eleven main attractions.

Zoo Central is one of the first attractions visitors experience at the Lake Superior Zoo. This attraction has a combination of animals, such as Speckled Mouse birds, Allen’s swamp monkeys, and a snapping turtle.

Griggs Learning Center is home to a variety of animals visitors have the opportunity to get up close and personal with. Some of the animals within the Griggs Learning Center include; chinchillas, salamanders, geckos, rabbits, songbirds, and parrots.

Asian Caravan showcases a variety of animals native to Asia. Two of the highlighted animals within this exhibit are the Amur tiger and snow leopard.

Barnyard features a variety of smaller animals that are typically found within farms and barnyards. Visitors have the opportunity of getting up close and personal with the animals within this exhibit. Some of the animals within the Barnyard include llamas, peacocks, and sheep.

Primate Conservation Center is an exhibit dedicated to the research, preservation, and education of some of the world’s most popular and featured primates, such as cotton-top tamarins, silver foxes, and callimico monkeys.

Nocturnal Building features an array of animals that are nocturnal. Visitors can expect to see and learn about two-toed sloth, burrowing owls, and southern flying squirrels.

Birds of Prey is an exclusive exhibit dedicated to two kinds of birds who are popularized for being predators. The two kinds of birds on display within this exhibit are turkey vultures and bald eagles.

Australia & Oceania houses animals that are native to Australia and Oceania, such as Bennett’s wallabies and the red kangaroo. Photo: David T/Fotolia

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»Educational Opportunities

Educational Opportunities

The Lake Superior Zoo is known for their array of educational opportunities. The educational programs at the Lake Superior Zoo range from specialized tours to summer camps and internship programs.

Of the Lake Superior Zoo’s specialized tours, the Zoo Train is the most popular. The Zoo Train is a small train geared towards providing children with a one of a kind tour experience. Participants hop aboard the Zoo Train and see all of the Lake Superior Zoo’s highlights from the comfort of a train car. Participants will also learn about interesting animal facts and gain a behind the scenes glimpse of the zoo from the Zoo Train’s conductor. For more information about the Zoo Train, and other educational programs at the Lake Superior Zoo, check out the Zoo’s website.

Back to: Best Things to do in Duluth Address: 7210 Fremont St, Duluth, MN 55807, Phone: 218-730-4500 Photo: photoloulou91/Fotolia

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Things to Do in Duluth, Minnesota: Lake Superior Zoo

  • History, Photo: Courtesy of Chang -
  • Attractions, Photo: Courtesy of David T -
  • Educational Opportunities, Photo: Courtesy of photoloulou91 -
  • Cover Photo: Courtesy of Tanya -