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History

Henry Vilas Zoo

Take a look through the history of Madison’s favorite zoo.

Our History

Timeline

Start

2000

2000

Henry Vilas Zoo 2000 Visitor Center

A new visitors center (now called Anna Vilas Hall) opens after a $1.25 million renovation of the former aviary. The center houses a permanent zoo history exhibit and the zoos’ seasonal exhibits.

2003

2003

Henry Vilas Zoo Aviary

The zoo opens its new $4.2 million Tropical Rainforest Aviary and completes a concept plan for the $27 million Zoo Century capital campaign.

2006

2006

Henry Vilas Zoo North American Prairie

The North American Prairie exhibit opens, bringing bison, prairie dogs, and a badger to the zoo. The Conservation Carousel begins offering rides.

2007

2007

Henry Vilas Zoo Red Panda

The Children’s Zoo animal exhibits are completed and feature a red panda, wallaby, porcupine, meerkats, and white-handed gibbons.

2008

2008

Henry Vilas Zoo Flamingo

A year-round flamingo exhibit opens. The Children’s Zoo Train begins to offer rides.

2009

2009

To help Dane County through a difficult economic time, the zoological society agrees to contribute more to zoo operations than originally planned: a sum of over $500,000.

2011

2011

Henry Vilas Zoo Red Barn

The Children’s Zoo “Red Barn” is completed. This sustainably-designed building houses top quality habitats with minimal environmental impact. It also provides wonderful educational opportunities.

2013

2013

Henry Vilas Zoo Animal Health Center

The Animal Health Center, the zoo’s state-of-the-art veterinary medical facility, opens in the spring.

2015

2015

Henry Vilas Zoo Arctic Passage

Construction is completed on Arctic Passage, the largest renovation in the zoo’s history. The new exhibit complex includes many exciting features, including special conservation and sustainability components, the zoo’s first indoor restaurant (The Glacier Grille), and large, state-of-the-art exhibits for the zoo’s polar bears, grizzly bears, and harbor seals.

2016

2016

Henry Vilas Zoo Meet our Badgers

The Wisconsin Heritage Exhibit, highlighting Wisconsin’s mining history and the story of Bucky Badger, opens in October. The new exhibit features American badgers and sandhill cranes.

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