Combining the beauty of botanic gardens with the wildlife vibe of a zoo, ZooMontana is the perfect choice for an outdoor adventure for the family while visiting Billings, Montana.
What’s the history behind ZooMontana?
ZooMontana is an accredited arboretum and zoological/botanical garden with educational facilities in Billings, Montana.
The group was organized and incorporated as a non-profit 501 C (3) organization in 1984 as the only true zoo and botanic park within 500 miles of Billings.
11 years after the zoo originally opened, ZooMontana opened its new (current) facility of 70 acres. The park gained full accreditation in 2019 and became one of less 10% of the facilities out of 2,000 similar parks in the nation to be accredited by AZA (Association of Zoos and Aquariums).
ZooMontana is also recognized as one of the top zoo facilities in the world.
What makes ZooMontana different from other zoos around the country?
ZooMontana has the mission to create and maintain a high-quality zoo that focuses on large, ideal habitats for its residents, rather than having the biggest collection around.
This means that the 70-acres have been made into highly and precisely designed large habitats for the critters that live there, with plenty of room for more natural living than you’d find for zoo animals in a large city.
Where did ZooMontana get their animals?
The majority of the animals at ZooMontana are rescued animals. Often, this means the animals were rescued from folks who kept them illegally as pets or because the critters were permanently injured somehow.
The animals that aren’t rescue animals are part of the crucial breeding programs around the world, designed to help species survive and thrive.
Why aren’t there any giraffes or zebras?
Because ZooMontana is committed to ideal habitats for their animals, they only feature animals that naturally inhabit the 45th parallel and northward from around the world.
The animals live outdoors most of their lives, so keeping African rescue animals would be dangerous and unhealthy for the animals.
Why are things overgrown and the water dirty looking in some of the exhibits?
Because ZooMontana is purposefully providing as natural a habitat as possible for their animals, they let the grasses grow up a bit. This feels much more natural for grizzly bears and bison than a well-mown lawn would.
The water in some exhibits also looks a bit “dirty” because they don’t treat the water with chemicals.
Instead, they provide water features with water that’s safe for their animals to drink and play in but wouldn’t necessarily look too tasty coming from a tap! Again – this is for the natural well-being of the animals.
Also, if you notice things that look like trash in the exhibits (think cardboard or buckets), these are just toys for the animals to engage with to help keep them healthy, active, and playing for their best, healthy life.
How do I find out what’s going on at ZooMontana?
ZooMontana isn’t just home to the animals and plants here, it’s also a venue where you’ll experience a range of exciting events throughout the year. Be sure to check the contact info below to stay tuned to upcoming events – or reach out with questions.
- 2100 Shiloh Rd, Billings, MT
- (406) 652-8100
- Summer Hours: 10 am to 5 pm
- Late admission at 4 pm
- Season: Year-round – Open every day, save for Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year’s & Easter
- Adult entry fee: $11
- Seniors & military entry fee: $9
- Children 3 to 15 entry fee: $8
- Children 2 and under: Free
- School & non-profit group rates: $4 (call ahead for reservations at this rate)
- Group rate (12 or more): $7
- Parking: Free
- Single stroller rental: $7
- Double stroller rental: $9
- Wheelchair rental: $8
- Electric wheelchair rental: $15
What can I see at ZooMontana?
ZooMontana cares for around 80 animals of 56 different species. You’ll find a range of animals both local and international, including but not limited to:
- Amur tigers
- River otters
- Grizzly bears
- Canada lynx
- American badger
- American mink
- Bearded dragons
- North American porcupines
- Tiger salamanders
- Three-toed box turtles
- Hoffman’s two-toed sloths
- Red pandas
- Nigerian dwarf goats
- Grey wolves
What kinds of events occur at ZooMontana?
There is a wide range of events and special activities held at ZooMontana.
Private events can be hosted here (think weddings, birthday parties, family reunions, and similar), but public events are always a great option to enjoy while visiting the area.
Current events on the calendar for the ZooMontana summer season include
- Medieval Marketplace (select weekends through September)
- Vincent Children’s Healthcare Kids Fun Day
- Billings’ Kiwanis Movies Under the Stars (select weekends throughout summer)
- Ales for Trails (September 9)
- Live band concerts throughout the summer
The whole family is sure to love a visit to ZooMontana, where rescued animals find a second chance and endangered species find hope in important breeding programs.
From cuddly-looking river otters to impressive Amur tigers, you’ll find a host of critters here you’ll love watching for an afternoon as you stroll through the natural-feeling habitats and beautiful greenery of the botanical garden grounds.
Be sure to check out the events calendar before you head over, too, as you might well find a fun time if you bump your visit a day or head over before the afternoon rush.