Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

ZooMontana vying for Top 10

A tiger explores a tree-tunnel at ZooMontana
Jeff Ewelt, ZooMontana
Animal enrichment is just one criteria of the Top 10 Zoos

Zoo Montana has garnered notable recognition from USA Today as one of the Top 20 zoos in the country.

As Yellowstone Public Radio’s Orlinda Worthington reports, the zoo can use the public’s help moving into the top 10.

ZooMontana in Billings is vying for a spot among the top ten zoos nationwide.

Director Jeff Ewelt told YPR that the criteria for the list is impressive.

“USA Today did a really good job of looking at the overall picture of the organization of the zoo, not just how many animals do they have and how many people that they have come in. And so they really look at the enrichment that you provide the animals,” Ewelt said.

Ewelt says enrichment includes things like positive interaction with their caregivers,fostering meaningful interactions between animals and human visitors, and… toys.

“You know, unfortunately, the majority of the animals that are here they’re either injured in some way or they're a nuisance animal, what have you. And so when we bring them into the zoo, they lose a lot of that natural enrichment, things like finding a mate, running from predators, running after prey. And so it's our job then to make sure that they get that by incorporating these enrichment items,” Ewelt said.

ZooMontana has competition with some big facilities like zoos in Cincinnati and Omaha. The top ten zoos will be determined by a vote of the public. There is no monetary prize, but Ewelt says they will be honored just to have the braggin’ rights.

In Billings, I’m Orlinda Worthinton

People can vote once a day through March 5th at the link below. Voting is free and requires no sign-up.

The votes cast will contribute to Zoo Montana's goal to solidify its standing among the nation's top zoos.

Orlinda Worthington hosts “Morning Edition” weekdays on YPR. She brings 20 years of experience as Montana television news anchor, producer, and reporter.