Minnesota’s Como Zoo and Housekeeping

Alright, housekeeping first. I’ve decided to cut these down to just once a week. I know that for those of you absolutely riveted by my posts, this is a devastating blow. But it just is what it is. I will now post every Sun-Tues depending on how the week is going, but probably Mondays.

The Como Zoo in Minnesota

I like zoos. I know this is an unpopular sentiment and I suppose I should rephrase. I like good zoos. Zoos help to seem animals safe and people aware of them. They’re great for learning and a fun day out. But…

I do not like Minnesota’s Como Zoo. I went to the zoo yesterday (Sunday) to see the new gorilla and polar bear enclosures. Not my idea.

What I saw did not thrill me. I’ve never liked this zoo, mostly because I’ve always thought the treatment of the animals and their enclosures was seriously lacking.  The polar bears especially. It’s been years since I’ve been there but I remembered the two polar bear they had both just walked or swam in the same formation over and over and over. These grand, majestic creatures had basically gone mad. When I went into  the new polar bear enclosure I was hoping to see something different. I didn’t and I was so upset I had to leave, almost in tears. This huge beautiful creature just swam in the same routine, over and over and over and over. And you could see he had been trained to do this because at the end of each routine he stepped out onto the rock and bobbed his head near the enclosure door like he was expecting treats. Over and over and over.

Outside was no better. On a sweltering 80 degree day with high humidity, the other polar bear was in a grass and “stone” covered enclosure completely devoid of water. I heard several people around me go, “That’s just wrong,” before walking away.

The zoo rid itself of its entire collection of bears for this new enclosure and it looked like nothing had changed. The interior was nicer for the visitors, but the polar bears weren’t what I’d hope they’d be.

But it’s not just the polar bears that make me want to leave this zoo and never come back.

The Sea Lions:


Not only is this enclosure barren, it’s filthy. There’s always scraps of litter in the water and it just looks dirty and sad. The sea lion’s indoor enclosure is not much better, mostly concrete, a small pool for swimming, and 1 or 2 toys. I have a real problem with this zoo’s indoor enclosures. They’re deplorable. Minnesota’s summer has so many hot, humid days that often times animals are forced to spend more time indoors and out and they’re greeted with nothing but inhospitable concrete.

For instance, the giraffes and zebras. It literally breaks my heart.



And the outside isn’t all that better. Not really the grassy plains we’re hoping for.


Now I’m not a zoo expert but I know how going to this zoo makes me feel versus the Minnesota Zoo or the amazing Omaha Zoo, where I feel the habitats are more inviting, life like, and kept up.

The only animals at Como that seem to be fine are the big cats. The tigers, lions, snow leopard, and cougar are all happy and active. Their outdoor enclosures are more like sanctuaries… but their indoor enclosure is just some concrete and  some straw laid on the ground. That’s not good enough for my house cat let alone a lion.

And the penguin enclosures are so filthy you can barely see through the glass.

The zoo was also crazy busy, literally packed beyond belief. I really need to look into that. Are animals negatively affected by that many people staring and talking and banging on the glass? Do they even noticed? I want to find out.

All and all, I was not impressed and I wouldn’t go back despite the very cheap price of “$2 suggested donation.” I love Como Park and the Conservatory is beautiful, but I wouldn’t consider Como for my animal viewing needs.

(Photos courtesy of http://www.zoochat.com)