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Rolling Hills Zoo is dedicated to the preservation of wildlife through participation in conservation programs and by providing fun and interactive educational experiences.
The History of Rolling Hills Wildlife Adventure
In the early 1980’s, Salina businessman Charlie Walker purchased a section of ground in western Saline County. A large barn was built to house a number of Belgian horses and Rolling Hills Ranch was born. During the early years, hundreds of schoolchildren visited the "Main Barn" each year to learn about the large draft horses.
In the late 1980’s, Charlie decided to add a few animals to the barn, such as two black bear cubs, a few llamas, and a lioness. The tours were no longer requested only by school groups. Family reunions, class reunions, and other groups were requesting tours of the Main Barn to see these incredible animals. The excitement generated by these animals convinced Charlie that the Salina community and surrounding area would benefit from having a wildlife park.
In 1995, the exotic animal portion of the ranch formally broke its ties with Rolling Hills Ranch and became a private, non-profit foundation dedicated to the conservation and propagation of rare and endangered species. The animal collection, land, and equipment were donated into the newly-formed foundation, Rolling Hills Refuge Wildlife Conservation Center, and construction of the zoo began in earnest. After five years of construction, the zoo opened to the public in the fall of 1999. When guests visit the zoo, they see the animals living in naturalistic exhibits within a beautifully landscaped, yet rural setting. Guests are able to view animals living out their lives with the dignity and respect they deserve.
In 2000, the vision was expanded to include a wildlife museum. A 64,000-square-foot building was constructed. A portion of this building was designated as a conference center that could be rented out for business meetings, receptions, or used for the zoo’s own events. The conference center held its first event in April 2002.
Construction began on the interior portion of the wildlife museum in 2003. Keeping respect of the animals firmly in mind, the museum offers guests a journey around the world while visiting seven different regions such as Africa, North America, the rain forest, and much more. The museum also offers a 2,000-square-foot traveling exhibit area, a children’s exploration room, and a domed ADM Theater. The museum opened to the public in March 2005 and has expanded the educational message of the park by exhibiting animals not found in the zoo and offering a year-round, climate controlled experience for guests.
In 2009, the park underwent an official name change to Rolling Hills Wildlife Adventure. Rolling Hills Wildlife Adventure is a public, non-profit organization dedicated to the preservation of wildlife through participation in conservation programs and by providing fun and interactive educational experiences.
- Melissa Mahoney
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