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Working to Save Wildlife

Conservation is a key cornerstone to your Great Plains Zoo’s mission. Alongside the AZA (Association of Zoos and Aquariums), we are working to save animals from extinction each and every day. From rounding up for conservation when you purchase your ticket to participating in boots on the ground field work, your Great Plains Zoo is focused on conservation efforts that will move the dial toward species preservation right at home and across the globe! 

Learn a little bit about the conservation efforts we have ongoing below!


Dakota Skipper:

Skipper Website Dakota Skipper Field Matt

Great Plains Zoo has been working in collaboration with the Minnesota Zoo's Prairie Buterfly Conservation Program to help save a declining species of butterfly native to the prairie lands found in the Upper Midwest, the Dakota Skipper. The Dakota Skipper is a small but mighty pollinator whose population has majorly decreased in recent years due to habitat loss. Together with the Minnesota Zoo and the Butterfly House and Aquarium in Sioux Falls, the Great Plains Zoo is working to create a habitat right here on zoo grounds to help rebuild the Dakota Skipper population. This is a conservation project that focuses on an important, local species of pollinator. Pollinators are vital to the world. A pollinator is responsible for bringing us about 1 out of every 3 bites of food, along with maintaining ecosystems and habitats for many animals (including humans) all over the world.




The Great Plains Zoo is proud to be a Protector member of the Founders Circle of AZASAFE: Saving Animals From Extinction. As an AZA accredited zoo, Great Plains Zoo is partnering with AZA and other AZA institute members for 3 SAFE Programs. We are SAFE partners for the Eastern Black Rhinoceros as well as Monarch butterflies. We are also very proud of being one of the founding members of the Lion SAFE Program as we work in close contact with AZA throughout our ‘Building Our Community Pride’ campaign to bring lions to your Great Plains Zoo. The goal of the program is to collaborate together among other AZA facilities to focus on conservation efforts for these animals as we move the dial to save species in need. SAFE aims to: protect threatened animals, build on established recovery plans and history of commitment, prioritize collaboration among AZA institutions, implement strategic conservation and stakeholder engagement activities, and finally to measure and report on conservation progress.


Raptor Rehab:

Owl Release Website

Your Great Plains Zoo also has a Raptor Rehab program. As a permitted raptor rehab facility birds come to Great Plains Zoo for a multitude of reasons through Game, Fish, and Parks and other partners. We receive wounded or abandoned Raptors and equip them with the skills they will need to survive in the wild, including teaching the birds how to fly if they are unable and teaching them to hunt so they can  thrive upon release. Each Raptor is examined and from there it is determined which level of rehabilitation they will need. Some may need a warm place to stay and food until a wound heals, while others need a full education on how to survive in the wild. Select Great Plains Zoo staff participate in the Raptor Rehab Program, which gives them valuable animal care skills as well as lets them take part in conservation efforts right in their backyard.  

Note: While it is understandable to see a baby bird and want to help, please do not take it upon yourself to take the bird. It is likely that the mother is somewhere nearby. We do our best to rehab these birds, but the mother is always the best option. If there is a situation where you come across a hurt bird, please contact Game, Fish, and Parks. They will determine the best place for the raptor from that point.

  • Love this zoo! Great place to get a walk in and the animals are everywhere! The museum/indoor part is very educational too. Has a lot of shade for when it's hot out. Very clean. Friendly staff.

    Taylor F.
  • We love to visit the zoo. They have great outdoor exhibits and lots to do inside as well. Great for kids and adults.

    Robin A.
  • Lots of great exhibits and animals to see! Fun gift shop and learning center.

    Stephanie N.
  • The museum gives you a break from the sun on hot summer days and has a great selection of animal exhibits from around the world. ¬†The zoo keeps growing and adding new animal habitats or improving existing ones. ¬†Membership offers reciprocal benefits to other zoos around the country.

    Bill T.