Pride of the Prairie


Rolling Hills Zoo will break ground on the lions’ new habitat, The Pride of the Prairie, on November 12, at 3 p.m., ushering in a new era at the zoo.

Mimicking the savanna grasslands of Africa, the native tall grass prairies of Kansas serve as the inspiration for Rolling Hills Zoo’s newest experience which will encompass nearly 20,000 sq. ft. and will feature a new indoor space, additional off-exhibit housing, and an up-close and personal 180 degree lion viewing cave.

Additional highlights of this new addition include opportunities for guests to experience being directly underneath a 450 lb. lion, or coming nose to nose with her at one of the windows within the cave.  A special training window inside the cave will also allow guests to be just feet away as animal care staff safely perform daily husbandry with the lions, all part of the exemplary care given to each animal at the zoo.


One of the most exciting features of The Pride of the Prairie will be additional housing to introduce a male to the zoo’s pride.  This building will include a viewing window for guests to observe as the new lion is safely introduced to the pride (which could take several years). In the future this space could serve as a den for a lioness and her cubs during their first few months of life, while offering a “first look” of the new cubs.

Wanting to do their part to ensure that Rolling Hills Zoo continues to thrive for the enjoyment of future generations, Bill Graves and Martha Graves Reese, of the William H. Graves Family Foundation, donated a gift of $250,000 to serve as the foundation for a one-to-one challenge to fully fund the Pride of the Prairie experience.  Thanks to contributions of literally hundreds of donors, businesses, and foundations, the challenge has been met and construction will begin in November.

“Few animals are more iconic to, or representative of, grassland ecosystems than the African lion,” shared Ryan VanZant, RHZ Executive Director.  “At Rolling Hills Zoo we could not ask for a better species to serve as an ambassador for the decline in grassland habitats taking place worldwide.  We are excited to bring The Pride of the Prairie lion experience to life this spring!”
The fundraising campaign continues for the Zoo to acquire the matching gifts needed to make The Pride of the Prairie a reality. Donations can be made online via our Donation Page or by mailing it to Rolling Hills Zoo, c/o Pride of the Prairie, 625 N.Hedville Road, Salina KS 67401.