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“From Prairie to Zoo” – 20 Years of Rolling Hills

Todd PittengerJanuary 10, 2019

An organization that started with a collection of horses in a barn is planning to celebrate its 20 year anniversary as an accredited zoo. Rolling Hills Zoo detailed plans on Thursday for a year long celebration.

Rolling Hills Executive Director Robert Jenkins said there will be different specials and activities planned each month as part of the zoo’s 20th anniversary .

A key focus of the celebration is Charlie Walker, the man who started it all.

Jenkins told KSAL News Rolling Hills is the realization of a dream Walker had. It literally started with some Belgian Draft Horses in a barn. Walker acquired a llama next, and his love of exotic animals was born.


A 20th anniversary exhibit will open this spring. It will focus on Walker. Among other things  visitors will be able to follow a timeline of the zoo’s history.

Along with the monthly specials, events, and the special exhibit a documentary video is being produced.

Jenkins said that Rolling Hills has had a huge economic impact on the area. Highlights include:

  • The zoo has 40 full time employees, 41 seasonal employees, 15 interns, and 168 volunteers
  • The zoo spends over $4 million every year on goods and services
  • The zoo generates nearly $128,000 in payroll taxes and over $70,000in sales taxes
  • The zoo serves an estimated 87,800 visitors annually, of which 68 percent come from outside Saline County to support the local tourism industry
  • The zoo receives no government support

Jenkins said one of the things he is most proud of is that from day one Rolling Hills has been a part of the prestigious Association of Zoos & Aquariums. The organization, which requires periodic re-accreditation,  leverages the wildlife expertise of its members to promote animal welfare, conservation efforts, and scientific education.

During the year the zoo is hoping to add to its collection via some bundles of joy that might arrive. Billie, one of the giraffes at the zoo, is showing symptoms of being pregnant. The zoo is also hoping to possibly welcome a new baby big cat as well.

Rolling Hill’s Zoo 20th Anniversary Celebration  will culminate with a big party in October. On that day prices will be rolled back to what they were 20-years-ago.






Copyright © Meridian Media, 2022. All Rights Reserved. No part of this story may be reproduced without Meridian Media’s express consent.





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