The non-profit Heritage Park Zoological Sanctuary sits on ten acres in Prescott overlooking Willow Lake. This zoo is home to many animals that have either been injured, abandoned or are unable to be released back into the wild.
HPZS Deputy Director Raquel Gardner spoke at a Prescott Valley Early Bird Lion’s Club meeting and touted the many programs the zoo provides.
Gardner has worked with the zoo for two years but consulted for the sanctuary for eight years. She worked in Chicago as a marine animal trainer, helped open the Arizona Science Center, and worked as a manager for the Phoenix Zoo for ten years.
“Each of the animals we have here are here for a reason,” Gardner explained.
“Every animal has a story to tell. We work with Arizona Game and Fish and Animal Control to help rescue, triage and rehabilitate the wildlife,” she said.
The zoo receives more than 500 calls each year from the community requesting assistance with wildlife-related issues including animals that may be in distress.
Common calls to the sanctuary include concerns about baby birds that have fallen from nests or baby deer that people think have been abandoned by their mothers.
“We care for a little over 300 animals each year,” she said.
Community Support Keeps the Zoo Alive
Covid-19 didn’t help the zoo regarding its event attendance and funding.
“It’s been a challenge for us and has affected us on several different fronts,” Gardner explained.
School children normally visit the zoo and that attendance, including the zoo’s outreach programs, have stalled because of health restrictions.
The zoo’s annual fundraiser, usually scheduled in October, also was cancelled and that event typically nets between 18 and 20 thousand.
People might not realize that food costs for the animals also went up during 2020. The normal, day-to-day operation became more expensive and the zoo continues seeking community donations and support.
One way that helps care for the animals is the popular Adopt-an-Animal program. Interested people may adopt an animal of their choice and contribute money that helps support the animal along with rescue and educational programs.
Gardner said the sanctuary continues hosting popular events throughout the winter such as Wildlights and Animal Sights, which is open to the public every Friday and Saturday night from 6pm to 9pm beginning November 27 and 28 through January 1 and 2.
Boo at the Zoo is another popular venue taking place on Halloween night from 5pm to 8:30pm – kids can dress in their costumes and trick-or-treat around the zoo.
“The saving grace for us is that we’re an open-air facility with less buildings. Families can take the kids where they feel safe,” she said. The zoo also features a children’s playground.
Zoo Website Guides Viewers Through Events, Programs
People also may rent the pavilions for parties. The website provides detailed information on group rental options as well as descriptions of the various pavilions and decks available for use.
Visit www.heritageparkzoo.org and learn about the rescued animals from this beautiful website that guides visitors through its special events, conservation projects, individual and corporate support options and the unique Keeper for a Day program allowing adults to shadow a zookeeper.
Zoo winter hours are 10am to 4pm and questions may be directed to 928-778-4242. The address is: 1403 Heritage Park Road, Prescott.