Boy survives wild ride in flooded culvert

June 20, 2012 at 8:04 PM
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DULUTH, Minn., June 20 (UPI) -- An 8-year-old boy was plucked to safety Wednesday after flood waters swept him through a culvert for 6 blocks in a Duluth, Minn., suburb, officials said.

St. Louis County Undersheriff Dave Phillips said the youth, whose name wasn't released, had some cuts but was otherwise OK.

The rescue in Proctor came as floods, triggered by as much as 10 inches of rain in the region, drowned all but one of the animals from the barnyard section of the Lake Superior Zoo in Duluth, zoo officials said.

"Obviously, our entire staff is devastated," Peter Pruett, the zoo's director of animal management, said of the zoo's losses.

Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton is to tour Duluth Thursday to get a first-hand look at the flood damage.

"This morning my thoughts are with our friends and neighbors in Duluth and the surrounding region, as they respond to major flooding," Dayton said in a statement. "I have spoken to Duluth Mayor Don Ness and have offered all possible state assistance now and during the recovery."

The downpours that inundated Duluth prompted some residents to flee their homes at the urging of the mayor, who declared a state of emergency as the St. Louis River swelled, the Duluth News Tribune reported. Flash flood warnings were in effect through 10:30 p.m.

Zoo spokeswoman Keely Johnson said all of the zoo's animals had been accounted for although one seal was found outside the facility on a city street. The flooding put the zoo's seal and polar bear exhibits under water, and killed its goats, sheep and donkeys. Berlin, the zoo's female polar bear, escaped her enclosure briefly but was tranquilized with a dart gun.

Johnson said the situation was improving.

"The water is starting to recede a little bit," Johnson said.

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