New habitat opening at the Rolling Hills Zoo

Local

SALINA, Kan. (KSNW) — The Rolling Hills Zoo in Salina, Kansas broke ground on Friday, Nov. 12 at 3 p.m. for a new habitat called the “Pride of the Prairie.”

This habitat will be designed to mimic the savanna grasslands of Africa. Kansas’s tall, grass prairies serve as inspiration for this new experience, covering nearly 20,000 sq. ft.

The layout will include an indoor space, exhibit housing, a close-up 180-degree lion viewing cave, and an opportunity to be directly underneath a lion. These additions will provide guests with the opportunity to experience being nose to nose with a lion or just a few feet away.

The “Pride of the Prairie” will also be introducing a male to the zoo’s pride. Guests will get the chance to watch staff safely introduce the lion to the pride, which sometimes takes several years. This will be done in a building that provides a viewing window.

In the future, they hope to have this building serve as a den for a lioness and her cubs during the first few months of their life. It will also provide guests the opportunity to have a “first look” at the new cubs.

Bill Graves and Martha Graves Reese of the William H. Graves Family Foundation wanted to do their part in ensuring that Rolling Hills Zoo continues to expand and thrive for future generations, so they decided to donate a gift of $250,000. This donation will fully fund the “Pride of the Prairie” experience.

“Few animals are more iconic to, or representative of, grassland ecosystems than the African lion,” shared Ryan VanZant, the Rolling Hills Zoo Executive Director. “At Rolling Hills Zoo, we could not ask for a better species to serve as an ambassador for the decline in grassland habitats taking place worldwide. We are excited to bring the “Pride of the Prairie” lion experience to life this spring!”

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