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MN Zoo's monorail morphing into Treetop Trail

Nearly a decade after the zoo closed down its elevated monorail system, officials say they'll repurpose the track to become world's longest elevated pedestrian loop.
Credit: KARE 11

APPLE VALLEY, Minn. — The old monorail track at the Minnesota Zoo will be changing into an impressive nature walk for all ages.

Similar to Manhattan's High Line, (a walking trail created on a former elevated railroad), the zoo's Treetop Trail project will repurpose the old monorail's track to become the world's longest elevated pedestrian loop.

On Friday, the Minnesota Zoo Director John Frawley was joined by Lt. Governor Peggy Flanagan and other officials to announce the kick-off to the big project.

The Treetop Trail is scheduled to be finished in summer of 2023.

The 1.25-mile walking loop takes zoo-goers up to 32 feet above the ground for a birds-eye view of tigers, bison, moose and other animals.

“Nature heals, restores, and inspires us,” says Frawley in a news release. “The Treetop Trail is a key component of the Zoo’s future and advances our mission of connecting people to the natural world. It will reinforce our reputation as a trusted nature destination in Minnesota and is an evolution of the role that zoos play around the globe. The Trail also has the potential to become a major tourist attraction and economic driver for the state.”

According to the news release, the zoo was given $11 million for this project during the legislative bonding process.

“As of today, we have secured more than $30 million or 80% of our $39 million goal, including philanthropic contributions and public support, which is remarkable,” said Frawley in the news release. “It’s inspiring to have this public and private partnership to support the Zoo and the Treetop Trail. We welcome anyone who supports the Zoo’s mission, our connection to wildlife and the elevation of Minnesota as a nature innovator to become part of this historic project.”

The original monorail at the zoo opened in 1979 and closed in 2014. At the time, zoo officials said it would cost too much to renovate it.

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