Review of the Rolling Hills Zoo
Written by Abby Wray on October 28, 2020
Quarantine and the pandemic is now entering the 8th month of taking over American society. One of the most unexpected downfalls of quarantine is entertainment, or the lack thereof. Children, teens, college-age students, young adults, adults, and the elderly are all struggling to find ways to stay afloat and not only safe and healthy, but also entertained and alive socially. Oftentimes this means turning to different ways to be engaged socially and mentally all while social distancing; I’ve been looking for ways to stay entertained safely during the pandemic and this week I was able to go to the Rolling Hill Zoo to see new sights close to home.
I had never been to a zoo other than zoos in my hometown of Wichita, Kansas (Sedgwick County Zoo and Tanganyika). I love museums, but I’m not a huge animal person so I was excited, but my hopes were not too high for this experience. I went with two friends and tickets were $13.95 each- this included tickets to visit all the animals and the museum within the zoo. When you first walk in the first animal you see is flamingos. There were only a few of them laying out, relaxing basking in the sunlight.
We quickly moved on to see all the animals throughout the enclosure.There was a farm animal section where you can touch the animals, (chickens, goats, llamas, and other safe animals) which was equally thrilling for college kids as well as younger children. The zoo had a surprising slew of animals- monkeys, birds, giraffes, koi fish, but my personal favorite was probably the reptile building.
Frogs are a top tier animal in my mind so getting to see many varieties was certainly enticing. Numerous snakes, frogs, turtles, and bugs were in the building and it was exciting seeing the animals so close up. Many of the animals throughout the zoo seemed to only have one within each exhibit which was a little sad to see (but they also could have been hiding or simply not in view). My limited understanding of animals and zoos is they are usually better in pairs or groups but again, I could be misled in that aspect.
There was also an interactive dinosaur exhibit with animatronic, large dinosaurs. There were about 6 different dinosaurs that made noises. People were able to get close and while this was a small section of the zoo, it was the perfect opportunity for a cute photo opp. People could also touch the dinos; they were soft and sturdy. (And luckily hand sanitizer was also available!) This was a surprising, fun moment of trip.
The best part of the experience though was unexpected. The museum was certainly the most impressive section of entertainment. People enter a big building and are immediately greeted with dozens of taxidermy animals all set in real life looking circumstances. Once you begin the journey through the building, you enter varying places in the world with the taxidermy animals coinciding with what is occurring in those places. So there was an African desert with life size animals ‘in action’ like elephants and cheetahs, there was an Arctic tundra with polar bears and animatronic indigenous people trying to go ice fishing, there was a beautiful South American rain forest with birds and animals all throughout the set. Most of the animals were taxidermy, but some were made of different materials. The museum must be home to hundreds of these taxidermy animals, the exhibits seemed to go on for ages, all the while being completely enthralling. It was educational and just super cool to experience and I’m sure it would be to any person of any age as well.
Overall we were able to keep socially distant the entire time we were in the zoo and museum which was the main reason we wanted to attend. It was a fun and informative time! Having positive, fun options of entertainment during a pandemic is absolutely necessary and the zoo is a good option as long as everyone keeps wearing their masks.