ZooMontana is the only zoo of its kind in a 500 mile radius of its location. Incorporated in 1985 as a non-profit corporation, the ZooMontana set out to build a world-class zoological park and botanical garden for the Northwest area of the country. The group chose Billings as the site of its new project because of its location and its population base. The choice of location was a good one. Since its opening in 1995, ZooMontana has become the most popular tourist attraction within a 600 mile radius, hosting more than 70,000 visitors a year.
The displays at ZooMontana are unique in that they are about 50% native to the region and 50% from other areas - but thanks to a decision made by the board during the planning stages, all animals housed at the wildlife park are from climates similar to the climate in the Billings area. This decision supports the zoo's decision to display animals in state-of-the-art naturalistic biomes where animals are at home and comfortable.
The exotic animals at ZooMontana include Asian tigers, Sika deer and William and Taylor, a pair of Asian red pandas. The North American animals, on the surface less exotic, are no less interesting to watch and study. They include two pairs of Rocky Mountain Bighorn Sheep, one of the most social and gregarious herd animals of the American Northwest. Bighorn sheep are a threatened species, and efforts at ZooMontana and other zoos are attempting to rectify the status with captive breeding programs. Ramsey and Angela live in a state of the art naturalistic environment that is considered one of the best examples of its kind.
ZooMontana is committed to providing education and outreach, and working with conservation groups. As part of the zoo's outreach services, it offers classroom visits and group tours of the zoo and well as Scout programs and volunteer opportunities for local residents. The Zoo also offers summer camps for kids, including week long conservation camps and one day Green Camps for parents and children.
ZooMontana also offers outreach programs, taking zoo animals out to classrooms and groups in the community, and "Trunk Boxes'' for teachers to rent. Each Trunk includes activities and lesson plans as well as animal artifacts that can be used in classroom teaching activities.
Also located at the zoo are three special gardens designed for specific purposes. Dottie's Garden is a beautiful garden of drought and heat tolerant plants meant to educate the public about the value of planting drought resistant plants. The Sensory Garden is designed to appeal to all the senses with delightful scents, beautiful colors, and textures of plants and flowers. The Montana Garden is a native plant display that is built completely of plants native to the Montana environment. Garden experts are on hand to answer questions and offer advice about planting with native plants.
ZooMontana is open seven days a week. From November 1 through March 31, the zoo is open from 10:00 AM to 4:00 PM, and from April 16 through October 15, it is open 10:00 AM to 5:00 PM. Admission is $6.00 for adults, $4.00 for Seniors, $3.00 for children ages 3-15. For more information contact the zoo at 406-652-8100