Situated on ten acres north of Prescott and overlooking Willow Lake, the sanctuary has many opportunities for visitors including a covered picnic pavilion; a children’s playground; interactive animal experiences; and large, naturally landscaped enclosures for the animals with paths that allow visitors the opportunity to get an up-close and personal view of them. One of the most interesting exhibits, and one which is unique to the Heritage Park Zoological Sanctuary, is the Tarantula Grotto. This building has a distinctive cave-like feel, and houses different spiders from all over the world This is one of the largest public displays of spiders in the country. Currently under construction is a 2,600 sq. ft. state-of-the-art Reptile House, which will be home to countless species including a 13 ft. Burmese Python; gila monster; geckos; skinks; iguanas; crocodilians and monitor lizards.
Other members of the sanctuary’s collection include a tiger who came from a zoo in Nebraska that lost its permits; an American Black Bear who came to the sanctuary as a cub when his mother was illegally shot by a hunter; a gray fox who was rescued as a youngster from the Phoenix area where she found alone and half drowned near a pool,; and a mountain lion who was confiscated through a joint effort between HPZS and AZ Game and Fish, after she was found being kept illegally as a pet in Arizona.
Heritage Park Zoological Sanctuary also has a prestigious role as participant in the American Zoo and Aquarium Association’s Species Survival Plan for the critically endangered Mexican Gray Wolf, one of the most endangered large mammals in the world. After a 20-year absence in the wild, this animal is being reintroduced to its former range following a successful captive breeding program. The sanctuary is a holding facility for wolves not currently ready for release.
This non-profit organization relies heavily on a large body of devoted volunteers to keep the sanctuary running. Volunteer opportunities include: assisting with landscaping and construction projects, helping in the animal care department, working in the gift shop, and participating in the docent and educational outreach programs. The sanctuary hosts a number of special events throughout the year, such as Zoofest, Eggstravaganza, Boo at the Zoo, moonlight events and Zoo Camp for kids.
The sanctuary’s motto is “Conservation through Education,” and it is a mission that this facility services with pride. As many of the wild places of the planet are disappearing and zoos become the last sanctuary for much of the world’s wildlife, Heritage Park Zoological Sanctuary offers a home for animals who have no other. This sanctuary is working to give something back – helping to restore some balance and trying to tip back the scales for animals who have lost so much. Through educating the public, Heritage Park Zoological Sanctuary hopes to help ensure the sustained existence of wildlife species throughout the world.
Heritage Park Zoological Sanctuary is open every day of the year and located off of Willow Creek Road across from Embry Riddle Aeronautical University, at 1403 Heritage Park Road in Prescott. Admission prices are very reasonable: $8 for adults (ages 13 and up), $7 for seniors (age 65 and up), and $5 for children ages 3 to 12. Animal adoption and membership opportunities are available.
For more information on the sanctuary and how you can become involved, call (928) 778-4242.