Bismarck is an exciting stop during North Dakota vacations because it's home to a number of excellent attractions. One of the most notable Bismarck attractions, and a top choice with families, is the Dakota Zoo. A visit to the North Dakota Zoo is one of the essential things to do when exploring the area. The zoo is a paramount attraction as well as a celebrated facility with a history city residents are proud of. Though it's certainly not the only zoo in North Dakota, it's one of the more interesting ones and has a great story behind it.
An important thing to note about the zoo in Bismarck is that operating hours change seasonally. Be sure to check hours of operation before visiting to avoid disappointment. The Dakota Zoo is open longest in summer, from 10:00am through to 8:30pm from June through August. This is also the time of year when the largest number of tourists visit. The Dakota Zoo first started as the Marc and Betty Christianson Farm, a 67-acre property that operated as a multi-use kennel. Renowned for its compassion for animals of all species, the Christianson Farm began receiving injured and stray animals on a regular basis. Eventually, there were so many interesting animals living at the farm that word got out and people began visiting.
In 1958 the Christiansons, with the support of the entire community, proposed to the city council that the farm be presented as the local zoo, without the requirement of any funding. With the additional backing of the Parks and Recreation, the Christianson idea was accepted, and they received almost 90 acres of land in Seratoma Park for the zoo. In the beginning, much of the zoo was built with the help of community donations and the labor of Marc Christianson and volunteers.
Over the years, the zoo in Bismarck has done enough fund raising to support the facility and all its animals. Millions of dollars have been collected through efforts by the Christiansons and others, and one of the most impressive parts of the success story at the zoo in Bismarck is its self-sufficiency. Since it first opened, visiting the North Dakota Zoo has been one of the favorite things to do for visitors in the area. With plenty of other prominent tourist attractions in the region, Bismarck and the zoo are great to take time to see.
Today the Dakota Zoo is home to more than 600 animals, representing more than 125 species. The zoo draws more than 100,000 annual visitors, whose admission fees, along with concession sales, adoption programs, donations, and memberships all contribute to the daily operations. The North Dakota Zoo is building habitats for new exhibits, including homes for tigers and exotic snow leopards. The zoo also offers train rides throughout the facility, dining, a children's play area, and a Trading Post, so you can find the perfect souvenir to take home.
Though the top choice for most Bismarck visitors is the state capitol, the North Dakota Zoo is not to be missed. The zoo in Bismarck, along with the former Governor's Mansion, Lewis and Clark Riverboat tours, the North Dakota Heritage Center, and the famous statue of Sakakawea are all leading attractions in the city. With a diverse choice in Bismarck hotels, great dining and entertainment options, and a convenient location within driving distance of Jamestown and Fargo. Bismarck and its zoo are an excellent vacation destination choice.