Animal funds

Twin Falls Zoological Center expands animal exhibits

TWIN FALLS, Idaho — A nonprofit wildlife sanctuary is set to open in the Magic Valley Mall in March. Twin Falls Zoological Center expands animal exhibits through community sponsorships. Water softening systems and animal exhibits are already sponsored by local businesses.

The center’s goal is to provide a local wildlife sanctuary in Twin Falls to help educate the community about animals such as snakes, birds, stingrays, alligators and turtles.

“We were founded with the purpose of inspiring people to conserve, and we recognize that the most important part of inspiring people to invest resources and time in conserving our natural world and natural habitats and species they contain is to educate them about their worth,” said Joshua Dowding, executive director of the Twin Falls Zoological Center.

The center aims to provide as much hands-on interaction as possible. The hope is that by allowing the public to interact with different species, they will have a better understanding of animals they might not otherwise be able to interact with.

“We’ve heard kids come and talk to us and spend a lot of time with us and leave and pull on their mom’s jacket and say, ‘Maybe I should pursue biology. It’s so interesting and they’ve never had this experience, so the hands-on interaction really gives them the opportunity to understand the wonder of this species,” Dowding said.

According to Dowding, the majority of the animals come from confiscations, disposals and abandonment of exotic animals.

“You have to hold them and interact with them to know what they really look like,” said Leilani Leavens, a volunteer at the Twin Falls Zoological Center.

However, funding the center has been a challenge.

“With the shutdowns, COVID, and lack of funding, it’s really hard to get grants, so corporate sponsorships are pretty important right now,” Dowding said.

To sponsor a project at the center, contact [email protected]