"We've got everything from all sorts of different birds of prey from great-horned owls, we've got bald eagles, screech owls, peregrine falcons among other raptors all the way up to our larger animals like bison, our elk, white-tailed deer," says Steven Burns, Parks and Recreation Zookeeper.
The Wildwood Park and Zoo in Your Town Marshfield is located on West 17th street. It's made up of about 60 acres and home to approximately 80 North American animals. Burns says, "The choice was made awhile back to go to North American animals just because the environment that we live in and the facilities available to us, it was better to house animals that could be housed outside year round."
The zoo was unofficially established around 1904 when some utility workers brought in some orphaned black bears. "Actually in 1910, an interesting fact, the mayor of Marshfield it was part of their job responsibility to care for their animals at the zoo," he says. In 1930, it was officially dedicated. "We have a long history in Marshfield and I think the community really stands behind us, so even though times can be tough we still get a lot of support."
Over the years, the zoo has seen animals come and go, most recently, Ms. Grizz. She died in September from poor health. She holds a special place in so many of our hearts. "Miss Grizz was a fixture in the community, there were generations of people that grew up coming to visit here at the zoo and really formed relationships with her," says Burns. But don't worry, the zoo is working to bring the grizzly bear exhibit back in the future. In the meantime, it will serve as a fox exhibit. "People had a real attachment to her, it was a real sad thing, we hope that people will make those same connections with our future animals," says Burns.
But there's a new addition to the zoo, baby bison. They were born in May. Burns says, "It's also good to have new animals, and the excitement that especially young animals create, so we'd encourage you to come out and enjoy watching the young ones, they're pretty cute right now."
No matter which animals make up the zoo, it attracts a lot of people each year. It doesn't cost you anything to spend time there, but that isn't the only that sets this zoo apart from others in our area. "It's special for so many reasons, one, it's just the atmosphere in our zoo, we have a lot of space, we have a good-park like atmosphere, we have more pasture space for our animals than a lot of zoos, much larger that us."