During the months of September and October 2022, fifty-nine VIP children from the area had an opportunity to enjoy a Dream Night experience exclusively devoted to them at Rolling Hills Zoo.
Dream Night at the Zoo is a unique event for children with terminal or chronic illnesses or disabilities from Saline County and surrounding communities. In this vein, Rolling Hills Zoo creates an environment where children with specific mental and physical health challenges feel more comfortable so that they can enjoy the zoo’s animals and special activities at their own pace in a fun yet safe setting.
Sponsored by the Salina Regional Health Foundation’s CHIP Grant and the McCune Foundation, this year’s Dream Night became a “come when you choose” event, giving the VIP children, ages preschool through 12th grade, and their parents the flexibility to come any day in September or October.
Upon their arrival, each VIP child redeemed their “golden ticket” for free admission to the zoo and wildlife museum along with admission for two adults. They also received a backpack filled with special Dream Night keepsakes, including a Rolling Hills Zoo photo frame for a favorite picture taken during their visit. In addition, each VIP child received $20 in Zoo Bucks to the Overlook Restaurant to spend on lunch or their favorite treats.
Along with visiting the zoo’s incredible wildlife, the children also enjoyed Animal Meet & Greets, Keeper Encounters, the Wildlife Museum and a visit to the zoo’s new exhibit, The Pride of the Prairie. During their visit to the Zoo, this year’s VIP children were able to set aside the realities of their physical condition and just enjoy being kids.
Dream Night at the Zoo began in 1996 at the Rotterdam Zoo for children from Sophia Children’s Hospital who were cancer patients. In subsequent years, the Rotterdam Zoo continued to organize these evenings with more children and more hospitals and institutions in the years that followed.
In 2007, Rolling Hills Zoo became an official partner of Dream Night at the Zoo by offering a night devoted exclusively to children with terminal or chronic illnesses or disabilities and their parents. By doing this, the Zoo tries to create an environment where children with specific mental and physical health challenges feel more comfortable and can enjoy the animals and special activities at their own pace in a safe, yet fun setting.