Social Media in a Tragedy: Flooding at The Lake Superior Zoo

A slew of springtime storms have brought inches upon inches of rain to the area surrounding Superior, Wisconsin and Duluth, Minnesota over the last couple days. Because of this rain, the entire area is experiencing severe flooding – people’s homes are being flooded; streets, sidewalks, and bridges are being washed out; cars are stranded in streets and parking lots…

…and one of the greatest tragedies is that the Lake Superior Zoo in Duluth, MN lost many animals due to flooding in zoo itself.

The last reports are that all but one of the animals in the zoo’s “barn yard” drowned because of the flooding, and two bird enclosures were under water. In addition to this, one of the zoo’s polar bears was able to escape its habitat (though it was rescued), and the zoo’s seal escaped its habitat as well, and also the zoo itself!

Both animals were rescued safely, and are now home at the zoo. However, the news spread quickly, and social media took over.

@DuluthZooSeal and @DuluthPolarBear both popped up on Twitter this morning, talking to everyone talking about the flood. Radio stations, news organizations and residents of the area received replies from the seal and the polar bear in quick, short, Twitter fashion. And while we’ve seen this type of thing happen before (with the @BronxZoosCobra account blowing up in popularity when it was lost last year), these two Twitter accounts are using their social media popularity to help in this tragedy.

By raising awareness of the issues, and communicating openly with Twitter users, both the ‘Seal’ and the “Polar Bear’ are asking for donations for the zoo. Looking through their Twitter streams, it looks like they’re having fun on their accounts, but the over-arching message is to help the zoo.

My sister has worked at this particular zoo for many years, and we know first-hand how much this zoo is loved by the community, and how hard it has worked over the last couple years to make it an educational, enjoyable, fun, and safe environment for the community and the animals themselves. And in order to continue, the zoo is going to need a lot of help recover from the floods.

This is a prime example of how social media plays a role in news sharing and current events – and how that spread of information can aid in building awareness for a great cause and fundraising for those in need.

Please consider donating to the Lake Superior Zoo in Duluth, MN and help give food and shelter to the animals that have survived. And say hi to the ‘Seal’ and the ‘Polar Bear’ – they love making new friends.

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