TWIN FALLS, Idaho — A nonprofit, wildlife sanctuary is set to open in the Magic Valley Mall this March. The Twin Falls Zoological Center is expanding animal exhibits through community sponsorships. Water softening systems and animal exhibits are already being sponsored by local businesses.
The goal of the center is to provide a local wildlife sanctuary in Twin Falls to help educate the community about animals such as snakes, birds, stingrays, alligators and tortoises.
"We were founded with the goal to inspire people to conserve, and we recognize that the most important part of inspiring people to invest resources and time into conserving our natural world and natural habitats and the species inside of them is to educate them on their value," said Joshua Dowding, executive director of the Twin Falls Zoological Center.
The center aims to provide as many hands-on interactions as possible. The hope is that by allowing the public interact with different species, they will have a better understanding of animals they may not otherwise interact with.
"We’ve heard kids come up and talk to us and spend a bunch of time with us and leave and tug on their mom‘s jacket and say, 'maybe I should pursue biology.' This is so interesting and they’ve just never had that experience, so hands-on interaction really gives them an opportunity to understand the wonder of that species," said Dowding.
A majority of the animals come from exotic animal confiscations, surrenders and abandonment, according to Dowding.
"You have to hold them and interact with them to know what they are actually like," said Leilani Leavens, a volunteer for the Twin Falls Zoological Center.
However, Funding for the center has been a challenge.
"With shut downs, and COVID and lack of funding, it's really rough to get grants, so business sponsorships are pretty important right now," said Dowding.
To sponsor a project at the center, reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org.