See More Wildlife Up Close at ZooMontana
Last week I talked about the Yellowstone Wildlife Sanctuary. It is a great place to go visit if you can make it to Red Lodge. However, if you do not have the time to drive there, take a look at the zoo we have right here in Billings. ZooMontana has been around for quite a few years, but it still seems that the majority of Billings has not been there to experience the exhibits. The lack of attendance has caused them to go through some financial struggles recently, and they ended up losing their Association of Zoos and Aquariums accreditation. Despite the difficulties, ZooMontana has pulled through, and is still a great place to learn and experience wildlife.
While there are many animals at the zoo, the main attractions are still the Siberian Tiger and the Grizzly bear. Just recently, though, the zoo has acquired three young bighorn sheep after the bighorns that used to live there passed away. Combine these animals with the many other rescued animals, and those that just needed a good home, and the zoo is a great place to see animals that most people would never see otherwise.
The animals are not the only reason to visit the zoo. There are many other exhibits that are great teaching and learning opportunities. The sensory garden is a fantastic place to learn about plants and the different smells and feels associated with them. The barn can show you what goes into caring for and maintaining barnyard animals. And for the smaller visitors that might get bored, there is a playground to let out some energy.
While most of the time going to the zoo is to see the animals and experience them up close, there are more things to do there. Throughout the summer, the gardens make a fantastic spot for a wedding. The flowers are blooming, the weather is often very nice, and the ambiance is great. Every Halloween there is Boo at the Zoo where kids can dress up and collect candy. In the winter, starting in December, ZooLights starts up. All the information can be found on the ZooMontana website as to when they are and how much these events cost.
The zoo is a great place to go for an afternoon. It is nearby and it is an excellent way to experience wildlife we have here in Montana without having to go into the mountains and search them out (although I am partial to exploring the mountains). The zoo is open every day from 10am until 2pm (gates close at 3, so don’t get locked in). The cost is $7 for adults, and $4 for children ages 3 to 15, but if you get a group of 12 or more it is only $2.50 per person. Call in advance and you can get a guided tour. ZooMontana is easy to find, just head south on Shiloh Road, past Zoo Drive (which will take you to the interstate), and it will be there on your right. Here’s a map in case you get lost. If you haven’t been to the zoo recently, stop by and see all that is new.
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