The Great Great Plains Zoo and
One of the zoo's animal ambassadors
Article and Photos by Kathleen Walls
Nature lovers who
visit Sioux Falls will fall in love with The Great Plains Zoo.
In this 45 acre park, you can visit animals from the North
American plains, glide over to Africa and see the animals of the savanna
in very natural surroundings, then slip over to Asia and admire the big
cats before you hop down under for the Australian wildlife. Plus there
are special exhibits for the flamingos, the Birds, Bugs and Amphibians,
the penguins and everybody's favorites the primates. Young visitors will
be enthralled by the barnyard creatures at Hy-Vee Face-to-Face Farm. All
told, over 1,000 animals from around the world.
A fun way to get a
good overview of the African Savanna is via the Savannah Express, a
narrated train ride that will give you a lot of behind eh scenes
information about the animals. What would a zoo be without a carrousel?
You won't be disappointed in the Sanford carrousel here. Hy-Vee
Face-to-Face Farm also offers a mining sluice and camel rides.
Great Plains Zoo
takes part in the very important breeding programs needed to bring back
endangered species from the edge of extinction. Some of their success
stories include the very rare Amur Tiger and Eastern Black Rhinoceros,
One of the zoo's tigers
In the 1940s,
the Amur Tiger was on the brink of extinction, with fewer than 40
individuals surviving in the wild. Now you can see the actual results of
the conservation breeding program in action. When you visit
Amur Tiger “Vika” and watch her tending to her trio of playful
cubs, who recently celebrated their second birthday, you get the full
meaning of the conservation breeding program. The cubs – two girls and a
boy – were born to Vika and her mate, “Danya,” in March 2010. This was
the second litter for the pair. Their first cub, “Callie”, was born in
This summer, the
Zoo’s eight-year-old Red Panda “Ruth” gave birth to a litter of two
cubs. More recently, in September 2012, the Reticulated Giraffe "Libbie"
gave birth to "Gerald."
Another success story relates to "Imara" and "Jubba" a pair of Black
Rhinos at the new “Rare Rhinos of Africa” exhibit. "Imara" has given
birth to two calves. The oldest, "Kapuki,"
born in 2005, now lives at the
Lincoln Park Zoo in Chicago, IL, and the second calf, “Kiano” relocated
to the Blank Park Zoo in Des Moines, IA. Hopefully both will start their
own families soon. This is the breeding program in action.
When you visit the zoo ask about other success stories.
|Exhibit in the Delbridge Museum of Natural
They are not
just a fun place to visit. They are an accredited member of the
Association of Zoos and Aquariums and working hard to preserve wildlife
species and at the same time educate and entertain. Another feature not
found in many other zoos, it the attached natural history museum.
Museum of Natural History is a classic example of good coming out of the
most evil of situations. Had I been around Sioux Falls while Henry
Brockhouse was hunting and killing animals, I would not have patronized
his hardware store where he displayed the results of his hunts. I would
not have wanted to contribute one penny to his hunting budget. I abhor
killing of anything not trying to kill you. ( I make an exception for
people who kill young children or animals. I see no reason not to kill
them before they do more
damage.) But that is not the end of this story.
Brockhouse passed on to his final judgment in 1978, a wonderful
humanitarian gesture by another Sioux Falls family led to the creation
of the Delbridge Museum. The
C.J. Delbridge family purchased the entire collection and donated it to
the City of Sioux Falls on the condition that a proper home be built to
house it. The result, Delbridge Museum of Natural History was built as
part of existing the Great Plains Zoo. It's a wonderful match. The 150
mounted animals displayed are so realistic, you expect them to move
around the exhibit area. They are a perfect counterpoint to the live
ones housed in the zoo.
|Rare African Elephant at the Delbridge
||Tiger hunting a young gazelle exhibit at the
mounts are from six continents and are grouped by habitat. Thirty-six of
them are members of "vanishing species,"
those animals so rare they could never be replaced if anything
happened to the mounts. Among the most valuable exhibits are the Giant
Panda, Black Rhino and African Elephant.
Combined the Zoo
and Musuem are a "do not miss" attraction for anyone who loves nature
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