The zoo's only elephant was purchased sometime between the 1920s-1930s; contradicting dates are found. The female Asian elephant Bessie was reported to often wander off zoo property before the perimeter fence was built. The 49 year old animal passed away in 1976. The zoo's elephant house was a WPA project of the 1920s. In 1990, the former elephant building was tranformed into a new Polar Shores exhibit, providing habitats for harbor seals, river otters, snowy owls, arctic fox, and polar bears.
The institutions name was changed from 'Duluth Zoo' to Lake Superior Zoological Gardens' in 1988.