One of Minnesota’s oldest (and best!) zoos calls Little Falls home.
The Pine Grove Zoo originally started as an untouched piece of land meant to be an area for preserving pine trees. In 1907 the land was deeded to the City of Little Falls and Pine Grove Park was intended “for the enjoyment, pleasure, and benefit of the people of the area”.
The zoo was born from the purchase of two Great Horned Owls in 1913. The birds drew a lot of attention, and the community encouraged the zoo to keep adding more animal friends, and that they did! White tail deer, elk, moose, raccoons, porcupines, and so much more was all added before 1917.
The major changes and improvements to the zoo started later in the century in the 1990’s. In 1991 a group of people came together with the goal to make the zoo a better place for the animals and visitors.
The Zoological Society worked very hard to change the perceptions of the Zoo and educate as many people as possible. They felt that the community would benefit from the Zoo’s education and conservation messages, as well as, all of Central Minnesota.Pine Grove Zoo Website
Landscaped paths, larger grazing areas for animals, petting stables, a wolf education building and more were all added to the Pine Grove Zoo. And the improvements keep happening even to this day.
Just this year the zoo had the grand opening of a brand new River Otter Exhibit. With fundraising help from the city of Little Falls, local businesses, and community members this dream came to life and is an amazing addition to the park.
Zebras, bison, kangaroos, peafowl, (new!) baby porcupines, bears, tigers, wolves, and so many other furry friends call the Pine Grove Zoo home year round. All the animals that come to the zoo live their for their whole lives. And the lives they live are good.
I have been on two personal guided tours of the zoo by the director Marnita Van Hoecke. It was incredible watching her move about the zoo. All the animals know her voice and get excited when they hear her coming. I saw wolves turn into puppies and a full grown Siberian Tiger act like a house cat. These animals love her, and she (and all the workers) love them.
The Pine Grove Zoo is open for visitors Spring – Fall with their Summer hours being 10:00 am – 6:00 pm daily May 1 – September 15, 2019. Admission is just $8 a person for ages two and up, making it a super affordable outing for the whole family.
The whole goal for the zoo is to educate visitors, and give an up close experience that you might not get at other zoos. They strive for promoting environmental education and conservation while creating a progressive zoological park in central Minnesota. All of that and a great time is exactly what you will find at the Pine Grove Zoo.