From the Executive Director

As the Executive Director of the Rolling Hills Zoo, it is my distinct pleasure to welcome you to Rolling Hills Zoo's website. We hope you enjoy our website as much as you do our zoo and wildlife museum.

If you ask a child today to draw a picture of a zoo, chances are he or she will draw an animal in a small, bare cage. While that picture may have been true at one time, modern day zoos, like Rolling Hills Zoo and other AZA-accredited zoos, now encompass exhibits depicting animals in more naturalistic environments, they conduct rich science-based education programs that reach visitors of all ages, and they participate in conservation programs on the local, national, and international levels.  And while they do all this, they also offer fun, popular, safe family experiences.

Rolling Hills Zoo (Zoo) is just such a facility.  As an Accredited Member of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA), the gold standard in animal care and nature based education programming, RHZ helps the AZA reach its vision of creating a world where all people respect, value, and conserve wildlife and wild places. 

Through our public science education programming, our unique and impactful conservation and animal welfare projects, the delivery of the very best in animal care and welfare for our living animals while providing visitor experiences that last a life time, your Zoo is helping to create that world where all wildlife is respected, valued, and preserved for the future. 

Thank you for visiting our website.  We hope to see you here at your Zoo very soon.

Board of Directors:
Sandy Walker - President
Clark Renfro - Vice President 
Julie Sager Miller - Secretary/Treasurer
Andrea Glenn
Mandi Graber

Gary L. Harbin, M.D.
Joshua Howard

Tom Pestinger
Joel Phelps
Carolyn L. Walker
Trace Walker
Carolyn Wedel
Travis Young

Charles W. Walker - Founder 1932-2012
Administrative Staff:
Ryan VanZant - Executive Director
Kathy Tolbert - Assistant Director
Brenda Gunder - General Curator 
Danita Bosquez - Guest Services Manager
Linda Henderson - Director of Development & Marketing
Kris Bell - Special Events & Group Sales Manager
Danelle Okeson - DVM
Teagan Miller - Education Curator
Debra Foley - Executive Assistant
Rick Rank - Maintenance Manager 
Gerrett Morris - Landscape Supervisor
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Mission Statement

Touching Hearts • Igniting Passion • Saving Wildlife

Our Vision

The vision of Rolling Hills Zoo is to create a place that provides enriching experiences to inspire appreciation and responsible stewardship of the natural world.

Donation Request

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What's Going on at RHZ?

Rolling Hills Zoo History

Old photo of the gazebo and pond at RHZ
In the early 1980’s, Salina businessman Charlie Walker purchased a section of ground in western Saline County. A large barn was built to house a number of Belgian horses and Rolling Hills Ranch was born. During the early years, hundreds of schoolchildren visited the “Main Barn” each year to learn about the large draft horses.

In the late 1980’s, Charlie decided to add a few animals to the barn, such as two black bear cubs, a few llamas, and a lioness. The tours were no longer requested only by school groups. Family reunions, class reunions, and other groups were requesting tours of the Main Barn to see these incredible animals. The excitement generated by these animals convinced Charlie that the Salina community and surrounding area would benefit from having a wildlife park.

In 1995, the exotic animal portion of the ranch formally broke its ties with Rolling Hills Ranch and became a private, non-profit foundation dedicated to the conservation and propagation of rare and endangered species. The animal collection, land, and equipment were donated into the newly-formed foundation, Rolling Hills Refuge Wildlife Conservation Center, and construction of the zoo began in earnest. After five years of construction, the zoo opened to the public in the fall of 1999. When guests visit the zoo, they see the animals living in naturalistic exhibits within a beautifully landscaped, yet rural setting. Guests are able to view animals living out their lives with the dignity and respect they deserve. 

In 2000, the vision was expanded to include a wildlife museum. A 64,000-square-foot building was constructed. A portion of this building was designated as a conference center that could be rented out for business meetings, receptions, or used for the zoo’s own events. The conference center held its first event in April 2002.
Construction began on the interior portion of the wildlife museum in 2003. Keeping respect of the animals firmly in mind, the museum offers guests a journey around the world while visiting seven different regions such as Africa, North America, the rain forest, and much more. The museum also offers a 2,000-square-foot traveling exhibit area, a children’s exploration room, and a domed theater. The museum opened to the public in March 2005 and has expanded the educational message of the park by exhibiting animals not found in the zoo and offering a year-round, climate controlled experience for guests.

In 2009, the park underwent an official name change to Rolling Hills Wildlife Adventure. Rolling Hills Zoo is a public, non-profit organization dedicated to the preservation of wildlife through participation in conservation programs and by providing fun and interactive educational experiences.