MN Zoo Penguin Exhibit To Open On Time Despite Shutdown

MN Zoo Director Lee Ehmke

Click to watch MN Zoo Director Lee Ehmke's news conference

Penguin lovers relax. The court has ruled in your favor.

A ruling on Saturday from Ramsey County District Court Judge Kathleen Gearin found the Minnesota Zoo’s funding is not subject to approval from the legislature and therefor it should not be shut down. All but “core Minnesota government services” have been shut down since Friday because the Governor Mark Dayton and the legislature cannot agree on a budget.

Minnesota Zoo Director and CEO Lee Ehmke says the Zoo will be reopening Sunday at 9 AM after a two day shutdown.

The ruling from Judge Gearin shows the law funding the zoo is sound says Ehmke. The zoo has moved to being more independent, now earning about 70% of its annual operating expenses from tickets, concessions and other sales.

Ehmke says he appreciates the difficulty the state is having with its budget, but since the zoo earns 70% of its money it should have the right to spend it to stay open. The ruling allows the zoo to spend money from concessions and admissions. Ehmke says that money should keep the zoo open through September and perhaps later should the government shutdown continue that long.

The shutdown did cost the zoo. Ehmke says that on a typical July day the zoo brings in $50,000 to $80,000. It also delayed the opening of the zoo’s new entrance until tomorrow. However, the shutdown will not delay the opening of the zoo’s much anticipated penguin exhibit which is scheduled for Saturday July 9th.

Videos: Sneak preview of the Zoo’s penguin exhibit that opens on Saturday.

“Do The Waddle”

The Zoo’s new entrance

Michael McIntee

Michael McIntee is a former network TV news executive with more than 30 years of broadcasting experience. He began his broadcasting career at the University of Minnesota's student radio station. He is an expert producer, writer, video editor who has a fondness for new technology but denies that he is a geek. More about Michael McIntee »

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