Zoo Receives $100,000 Gift

Rolling Hills Zoo has received a generous financial gift to help with a new major project which is under construction.

According to the Zoo, with gratitude, Rolling Hills Zoo’s Executive Director, Ryan VanZant, recently announced that the Zoo received a $100,000 gift from the Jack Wilson Charitable Trust for the construction of the Zoo’s new African lion “Pride of the Prairie” experience.

“This transformational gift is providing the funding necessary to make this new experience at the Zoo an exceptional one for our guests, staff and of course, lions,” shared VanZant. “We couldn’t be more grateful to have the support from the Jack Wilson Charitable Trust and his family in bringing this unique experience to Salina while creating an amazing African lion encounter for the families who visit the Zoo.”

Born in Salina, Kansas in 1924, Jack Wilson lived his entire life in Salina, where he was the eldest of three brothers.  While Jack did not graduate from high school, Darrell, his younger brother, shared that Jack had the mind of an inventor.

Jack began his career in the flour milling industry where he worked for John J. Vanier.  He advanced to become an electrician for the mill, and ultimately worked on designing new, more efficient equipment and processes.  He was instrumental in designing the electrical system necessary to add air to flour to make the flour flow like water.  This meant that the flour no longer had to be individually bagged and loaded onto trucks and trains.  Instead, the flour could be blown through hoses and directly into trucks for hauling.

After he retired from the mill, Jack started a successful business called Special Purpose Controls.  Special Purpose Controls built and sold electrical controls for irrigation equipment.  These controls were sold both domestically and internationally.  He continued to be an inventor and entrepreneur until his death in 2018.

Jack lived a conservative life which afforded him the ability to leave an impactful charitable legacy at his death through the Jack Wilson Charitable Trust.  It is through his generous legacy that Jack Wilson is helping the Pride of the Prairie experience become a reality while touching hearts and igniting a passion to save wildlife for future generations.