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Seal Briefly Escapes Lake Superior Zoo After Floods, Heavy Rain Hit Duluth, Minnesota

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Rushing waters in Duluth, Minn., claimed the lives of several animals from Lake Superior Zoo, but one little seal found its way back home with help of emergency workers and two intrigued residents.

Severe weather passed over Minnesota Tuesday night and into Wednesday morning, flooding parts of Duluth and causing the city's Mayor Don Ness to declare a state of emergency, the Duluth News Tribune reports.

In addition to uncovering manholes and causing damage, the floodwaters enabled several animals at the zoo -- including a polar bear -- to wander out of their enclosures. And according to Minnesota Public Radio, two seals managed to make a "run" for it.

One escaped seal was spotted by Donald Melton, a Duluth resident who was assessing the effects of the downpour near his home.

"At first I had to think, 'Do we have seals? We don't have seals,'" Melton told KARE 11. "I don't know what the trainers do at the zoo, but I just wanted to keep him safe."

Melton and another passerby kept an eye on the seal until emergency crews arrived.

Now back home, the seal managed to make a Twitter account to document its brief adventure: @DuluthZooSeal expressed concern about the safety of residents and mourned the loss of several of its friends.

The zoo lost a donkey as well as several sheep and goats to the flood, the Duluth News Tribune reports.

Lake Superior Zoo officials posted an update on the situation to their Facebook page Wednesday:

Thank you to all of our friends and zoo family for your support. What has happened at the zoo is extremely traumatic for our staff and animals. Our hearts are broken and we very much appreciate your kindness and compassion. It is our priority to keep you all appraised of the latest developments. We ask for your patience and continued support. We assure you we are continually working to maintain the safety and well-being of our beloved animals.

All animals at the zoo have been secured, the Associated Press reports. The area received about 8 inches of rain, with more expected.

As a precaution, some residents were told to evacuate their homes in case the St. Louis River's water levels rise, according to the report. Several roads were also closed down Wednesday morning.

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