Wilderness Trails Zoo started as a dream of two sisters and their husbands. Both couples enjoyed interacting with and taking care of animals. Inspired by this passion, they developed a plan. What better way for them to fulfill their desire to be around animals and share this passion with the community than to open a park where anyone can come to enjoy animals up close and personal?
The next step was to find property on which they could establish their park. The couples grew up around the Montrose area, so when they found 56 acres for sale just outside of Birch Run, they could not pass up the opportunity. Originally named Wilderness Trails Animal Park, the zoo opened its' doors to the public in 1991. It started out small, focusing on native species of wildlife and hoofstock but as word spread about the big little park, the animal collection grew.
While the two families deeply enjoyed running the zoo, with the addition of so many animals the population soon reached a size when additional resources were needed. The decision to apply for non-profit status was reached due to two main factors; first, the owners wanted the zoo to be self-sustaining long after the families were personally unable to care for the zoo. Second, the owners wanted to be able to raise funds to improve the park to a point where it could participate at a national level in cooperation with other zoos.
By January 2003 the zoo had received its 501(c)3 status and begun to operate as a non-profit entity. Everything that had once been owned by the two families was donated to the non-profit corporation. Both families are still actively involved with the zoo as board members and managerial staff.
Today the zoo houses more than over 200 individual animals representing over 50 different species. Wilderness Trails Zoo is constantly striving to improve both the lives of the animals in our care as well as the community's involvement and enjoyment.