The Roosevelt Park Zoo started out in a small way with just one animal exhibit when it opened in 1920 - a bison from neighboring Montana. Since then, the zoo has steadily added animals to its collection, and today it boasts around 200 individual animals and birds. Over the years, the zoo's philosophy has remained the same - to provide quality family entertainment as well as educate people about conservation and wildlife and provide high quality exhibits and displays.
The zoo has had an often eventful history during the almost 90 years that it has been in operation. During the 1950s and 60s, there simply was not enough money to spend on improving the zoo and conditions deteriorated. In 1969, the Minot area experienced its worst flood in almost 70 years - much of the zoo was under water for over a month and every animal and bird had to be temporarily moved to the local railway stockyards. And in early 2007, a fire virtually destroyed the Children's Zoo Barn; the entire structure had to be replaced.
Although the Roosevelt Park Zoo is relatively small, it offers a wide variety of both birds and animals. Among the almost 100 species on display, there are some rare animals such as the Japanese serow, a type of antelope; and the amur leopard. Some of the more popular exhibits - especially with children - include the river otter and the African black-footed penguin. And of course, guests can see most of the more common zoo animals there as well - lions, tigers, apes, zebra and giraffes.
The zoo has also acquired several new animals during the last few years. In 2002, the zoo acquired a couple of Siamang gibbons; the following year, great horned owls were added to the zoo's collection, along with a couple of baby giraffes. In 2005, West African crowned cranes were introduced for the first time, as well as a wild grizzly bear, and in 2007, Egyptian tortoises, trumpeter hornbills and a female mandible toucan all made their debut at the zoo.
The Roosevelt Park Zoo also participates in two important conservation schemes - the Population Management Plan and the Species Survival Plan. Between them, these two programs have helped to ensure that certain endangered species thrive, through the careful use of captive bred programs. Some of the animals that the zoo has helped to protect include the Bengal tiger, snow leopard, the warthog and the oddly named Kirk's dik dik, a type of antelope. All of these animals can be seen today at Roosevelt Park.
The Roosevelt Park Zoo has managed to both change with the times, as well as retain its charm and family-friendly atmosphere. Admission is inexpensive; the zoo also offers various membership packages for individuals and families, as well as educational tours and summer zoo camps. Guests can visit the zoo from May to October every year, weather permitting, with longer hours during the months of June and July. For more information, guests can call 701-857-4166.