PETA: "There's just no excuse" for Lake Superior Zoo animal deaths during Duluth flood

Despite taking heat from people who think they went too far in calling for criminal prosecution of the Lake Superior Zoo following the drownings of more than a dozen animals during last week's incredible flood, PETA isn't backing down.

Reached for comment this morning, Kristin Simon, senior cruelty caseworker for PETA, said once-in-a-lifetime flood or no, "there's just no excuse" for the animal deaths.

"There was a flash-flood warning issued the night of the 19th," hours before a deluge triggered massive flooding that did over $100 million in damage to the Duluth area, Simon said. Referencing a 2010 flood that forced the relocation of some animals, she added that "in an area known for flash-flooding, I don't think it was unforeseeable that [the animals] could be in danger."

Duluth City Attorney Gunnar Johnson has already said he doesn't plan to press charges against the zoo. Last week, Johnson said the flooding was "an act of God" and blamed the drownings on the failure of a culvert, not negligence.

The Lake Superior Zoo's playground was completely submerged on June 20.
The Lake Superior Zoo's playground was completely submerged on June 20.

But Simon disagrees. She alleges the zoo had a security guard watching the animals for a period of time after the rain began the night of the 19th, but let him go home before sunrise. "He should've been there all night," Simon said, adding that while the zoo says it had a contingency plan in place to get the animals to safety, "if animals drown, [the plan] certainly wasn't satisfactory."

Though Simon isn't surprised by the chill-out-PETA reaction many have expressed in the wake of the organization's call for the Lake Superior Zoo to be prosecuted, Simon said PETA "has been flooded with e-mail and calls from Minnesota residents who were outraged that the animals were left to drown, demanding someone speak up for them. If anybody is going to do it, it's going to be PETA."

"We realize prosecution was a long-shot," Simon said. "But we wanted people to think about this, to pressure the zoo to make sure this doesn't happen again."

Previous coverage:
-- Duluth flood: PETA wants Lake Superior Zoo prosecuted for animal drownings
-- Feisty the seal and Berlin the polar bear get comfortable at Como Zoo [CUTE PHOTOS]

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