ZooMontana is the only zoo and botanical park in the entire state of Montana. They do programs for school field trips, scout groups and events at the zoo that feature mixed species, like this Turkey Vulture.
“I fell in love with my first feathered friend, a Hahn? macaw, at a small pet shop that I worked at nearly 20 years ago,?said Troy Paisley, education director at ZooMontana in Billings, Montana. Following that, he worked professionally with birds and many other animal types in the zoo field for more 17 years, beginning with the Columbus Zoo in Ohio. One of his first jobs there was performing in the ?ings of Flight?bird show.
ZooMontana is in a rebuilding phase following severe financial struggles from many years ago. “The great news is that we?e on a massive upswing,?Paisley said. He explained that attendance is growing rapidly every single day. The education department currently does mixed species programs for school field trips, scout groups and events at the zoo, plus a great deal of outreach programming within the community. These programs educate groups ranging from schools to senior centers, and everything in between. “Our birds are always a hit when participating in these programs,?Paisley said.
“We have a very small education staff ŠThe three of us do most of the training and handling, and we have an amazing keeper staff that assists in their care,?Paisley said. Their Laughing Kookaburra is a big hit in her indoor habitat, which has open mesh on the front so guests can call to her. She loves to answer back. The Kookaburra, a Great Horned and Eastern Screech Owl, and Turkey Vulture all participate on the educational programs at the zoo and within the community.
Paisley? favorite group of birds are raptors. “Especially American Kestrels,?he said. “It? amazing to me how all of that speed and power can be tucked inside their tiny little bodies. So impressive!?lt;/span>
ZooMontana has a Bald Eagle habitat with two non-releasable birds on exhibit. With funds raised from a recent fundraiser, they?e currently in the design phase to move these birds to a new area in their ?merica? Waterways?region. Their new area will be next to a large trout pond, allowing guests to see them in their natural element ?in and around water.
“Bald Eagles tend to stay close to the waterways in order to catch fish, which make up a large portion of their diet,?Paisley said. ZooMontana? Golden Eagle, which is currently not on exhibit, will find a new home next to this region, as well, as phase 1 of their Bird of Prey habitat is completed this fall.
Troy Paisley, education director at ZooMontana, with a Great Horned Owl at a presentation.
This zoo is moving forward full throttle. According to the International Association of Avian Trainers and Educators website, their 2016 annual conference will be held in Billings, Montana. A call for papers is currently out looking for topics including training and behavior, conservation and research, shows and education, animal management and veterinary medicine, husbandry and medical behaviors and enrichment. Abstracts are due by October 1st. The theme of the 24th annual conference is “Let Your Passion Soar.?
ZooMontana is the only zoo and botanical park in the entire state of Montana and within a 500 mile radius of Billings. Paisley explained that the zoo focuses on cold climate animals that can be found at and above the 45th parallel. “This way, all of our animals are comfortable with Montana? long, harsh winters. They love it,?Paisley said enthusiastically.
ZooMontana strives to maintain naturalistic environments for their animals, so a visit to this zoo is like a walk in a beautiful park with the guarantee of spotting animals.
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