APPLE VALLEY, Minn. (AP) - The Minnesota Zoo has reopened despite the state government shutdown, thanks to a judge's ruling earlier this weekend.

The zoo in Apple Valley opened at 9 a.m. Sunday. Zoo spokeswoman Kelly Lessard tells the Star Tribune about 75 people went through the turnstiles almost immediately.

Lee Ehmke, the zoo's director and CEO, thanked Ramsey County District Judge Kathleen Gearin for her ruling.

Gearin agreed with the zoo's attorneys, who argued the zoo should be able to open under a state law that directs zoo gate receipts back to the institution.

Gearin found that although the zoo isn't a core function of government, it could open because it didn't need a state appropriation to operation.

(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press.  All Rights Reserved.)