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Rolling Hills Zoo in Salina, Kansas, houses lions, tigers and more

With the theme of “Touching Hearts – Igniting Passion – Saving Wildlife,” the Rolling Hills Zoo has more than 100 species of wildlife.

Visitors to the zoo can see this variety that includes lions, giraffes, tigers, monkeys, flamingos, rhinoceroses, African cranes, a coati, an aardvark and a giant anteater, just to list a few of its many animals.

Most animals will reside at the zoo throughout their lives, dying of old age.

“We will have these chimpanzees for their lifetime,” said Linda Henderson, director of development and marketing at the zoo. “That is our commitment as a zoo is we take care of them through their lives.”

What’s new at the Rolling Hills Zoo?

The zoo is working on renovations to their lion exhibit, The Pride of the Prairie. Renovations are also underway on the interior space at the orangutan exhibit, which is currently empty. The three large windows will be covered in a few weeks with interactive, fun graphics that display information about chimpanzees and a program that is helping them from becoming extinct.

Andrea, an Amur tiger, walks around her habitat Friday, July 2, 2022, at the Rolling Hills Zoo.  Amur tigers are the largest cats in the world and were formerly known as Siberian tigers.

More:Board games, boba tea, a giant chess set and more found at Second Realm in downtown Salina

The history of the Salina zoo

In the early 1980s, Charlie Walker, a Salina businessman, purchased land in western Saline County. He has housed his Belgian horses in a barn, starting Rolling Hills Ranch.

Walker added two black bear cubs, a few llamas and a lioness to the ranch in the late 1980s. Then in 1995, the exotic animal portion of the ranch broke its ties and became a private, non-profit foundation. The new foundation was called the Rolling Hills Refuge Wildlife Conservation Center and construction of the zoo began.

In 1999, the zoo was opened to the public. The zoo has animals live in naturalistic exhibits in a landscaped and rural setting.

An East African Crowned Crane walks around its habitat Friday, July 2, 2022, at the Rolling Hills Zoo.

In 2000, a 64,000 square-foot world-class wildlife museum was built with part of the building dedicated as a conference center and a children’s exploration room. The wildlife museum shows visitors the animal kingdoms from areas in the Far East, the Middle East, the African Plains, the Arctic Tundra, the rainforests and North America.

The museum features full-body mounts that are created in life-like poses. Walker purchased 19 semi-loads of mounts from a businessman in California. Walker built the museum to display the mounts because he wanted to teach people about animals that he did not have at the zoo, including elephants and some sub-species of animals that no longer exist.

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