Rolling Hills Zoo fundraising for unique shark experience, first in the state
There’s something fishy happening in the northeast corner of the Rolling Hills Zoo where a new experience is soon to make a daring splash.
“Bamboo Bay is our next big project… part of our master plan over the next few years," Ryan VanZant, the Executive Director of the Rolling Hills Zoo in Salina said.
Not everyone who visits the Zoo in Salina visits its reptile building, but they soon might.
“Bamboo Bay will transform this building taking some of our exhibits that have been in Rolling Hills Zoo for quite some time, in particular, these smaller exhibits off to my right here will be replaced with a 3-thousand gallon salt water aquarium that will house chain cat sharks," VanZant shared as he stood where the new shark tank will be.
VanZant says these chain cat sharks don’t get too big, but they have a big surprise.
“They are also bio-florescent… so not only will we have sharks in the zoo, we will have glow-in-the-dark sharks in the zoo," he added.
He says it’s a shark species not found in any other zoo in the state of Kansas.
"It would be a very unique experience here at the Rolling Hills Zoo.”
While this new shark experience is sure to be a unique one, it's not the only thing that might make your Salina zoo trip next spring a little more memorable.
“Currently we are fundraising to bring Bamboo Bay to light. Bamboo Bay's biggest attraction is the shark tank, but it also brings some other amenities to the zoo that are greatly needed. We are 65 acres here, and in our 65 acres, our restrooms are found on the front half of those 65 acres," he said.
With new restrooms, you won’t have to walk a quarter mile away for your next potty break.
"...and we are bringing in a concession space that will look like a Tiki bar, but will be used to serve snow cones throughout the summer and help create an event space.”
The zoo is a privately funded non-profit and every dollar will help shape this new experience.
“If you say sharks in Kansas, you are definitely going to be interested and another tie into it all is a lot of people don’t know this, but 50-million years ago Kansas was ocean. There were sharks swimming in this area wild at one point in time, so we are happy to bring a piece of that back. We like to say Bamboo Bay is 50 million years in the making," VanZant said.
The 'bamboo' in 'Bamboo Bay' is an ode to what is original to the reptile building, which will be the site of this shark experience, as well as what is outside of the building welcoming you in.
The zoo says Bamboo Bay will be brought to life with donations. Construction for the new shark experience is set to begin by the end of this year.
The zoo is also discussing the possibility of hosting ‘overnights’ in the future... so you could be able to see the sharks prowling the depths at night.
The Rolling Hills Zoo has a fundraising goal of $300,000 for this experience and these additions, which include, the shark tank, adding restrooms, adding an event venue and making improvements to the infrastructure in that area of the zoo.
You can donate to the zoo here. You can also mail a check to the zoo and VanZant says you can also reach out to the zoo on social media and connect with the team to learn more on how you can donate.