Meerkat destruction

Greg Kline filed this request with the Minnesota Zoo of Minnesota.


From: Greg Kline

To Whom It May Concern:

Pursuant to the Minnesota Data Practices Act, I hereby request the following documents:

All records and documents related to the incident leading to the destruction of the Minnesota Zoo's Meerkat exhibit in 2006.

I also request that, if appropriate, fees be waived as I believe this request is in the public interest. The requested documents will be made available to the general public free of charge as part of the public information service at, processed by a representative of the news media/press and is made in the process of news gathering and not for commercial usage.

In the event that fees cannot be waived, I would be grateful if you would inform me of the total charges in advance of fulfilling my request. I would prefer the request filled electronically, by e-mail attachment if available or CD-ROM if not.

Thank you in advance for your anticipated cooperation in this matter. I would request your response within ten (10) business days.


Greg Kline

From: Burns, Beth (MNZOO)

Dear Mr. Kline:

I am in receipt of your request for information, dated January 23, 2015 for "all records and documents related to the incident leading to the destruction of the Minnesota Zoo's meerkat exhibit in 2006."

I am happy to provide you with information, but am uncertain as to what information you are seeking. The meerkat exhibit at the Minnesota Zoo was opened in 2002 and closed in 2009 in order to build "Woodland Adventure," a children's play area that still occupies the space where the meerkat exhibit had been located.

If you can provide me with any further information related to your request, I will be able to respond accordingly. Please note that I will be out of the office and unable to respond to your request between February 2 and 8.

Thank you.

Beth Burns
Vice President for External Relations
Minnesota Zoo

From: Greg Kline

Dear Ms Burns

Thank you for your prompt reply.

I am seeking all information surrounding the destruction of the Meerkat family that was destroyed by the Minnesota Zoo as the result of a child biting incident, including all investigative reports pertaining to the incident itself, including interviews with the involved parties, as well as internal memorandums and documents related to the subsequent decision to destroy the Meerkats for rabies testing. This incident occurred in the summer of 2006.

Thank You

Greg Kline

From: Burns, Beth (MNZOO)

Mr. Kline,

Thank you for your clarification on the information you seek. I am providing you with disposition information on all meerkats that have been part of the Minnesota Zoo collection. I am also providing you with a copy of a standardized letter that was sent to any zoo guest or member who inquired about the incident to which you refer. I was also able to gain a bit more understanding of the incident itself, as I was not a member of the Zoo staff at the time. Here is what I now understand:

The exhibit was not “destroyed” following that incident; the Minnesota Zoo meerkat exhibit remained open for two more years following the incident. The decision to close the exhibit was to fulfill part of the Zoo’s facilities master plan and build a playground area for young children (Woodland Adventure). As evidence that the ‘child biting incident’ was unrelated to the closing of the exhibit, the meerkat disposition records seem appropriate to provide at this time; there is no expiration date on that type of information. Those records confirm that the exhibit was maintained for years following the incident. The Zoo’s data retention policies do not require that we retain internal records pertaining to guest-related incidents for more than five (5) years, so we do not have additional information to provide to you pertaining to the incident itself, or the parties involved.

I hope you will find the information I am sending to you to be helpful and I consider our obligation to fulfill your request complete at this time.

Thank you for your interest in the Minnesota Zoo.

Beth Burns
Vice President for External Relations
Minnesota Zoo