Animal Ark Wildlife Sanctuary began in 1980 although the idea was conceived two years previously. It started with the acquisition of two gray wolves by Diana and Aaron Hiibel, co-founders of Animal Ark.
IN THE BEGINNING
Animal Ark Wildlife Sanctuary began in 1980 although the idea was conceived two years previously. It started with the acquisition of two gray wolves by Diana and Aaron Hiibel, co-founders of Animal Ark. They quickly learned that wild animals do not make good pets and that there were many misconceptions about wolves in general.
After much research and hands-on experience, a desire to share the knowledge with others soon developed. A slide show on wolves and other wild animals that were housed by the Hiibels was developed and offered to the public, along with tours for children to see the animals.
During this time, the first in a long line of requests to house disadvantaged wildlife was made of Diana and Aaron. As more animals were provided permanent care, a desire for relocation into a natural environment with more acreage prompted them to search for property. Thus, with the purchase of 70 acres in Red Rock Estates, just 25 miles northwest of downtown Reno, Animal Ark was born.
Educate Our Children
In spring of 1982, Animal Ark opened its Nature Trail Program. This was the beginning of fulfilling the public education portion of its mission. It was approved by the Washoe County School District as an official field trip and through this special program, thousands of children have learned about nature and the wild animals that live there. At this time, Animal Ark opened only once a year to the general public to allow them to see what their children were learning and to enjoy the animals.
Throughout these early years, Animal Ark continued to accept more disadvantaged wildlife. These animals included bear, coyote, bobcat, mountain lion, and kit fox. Some of these animals were being kept illegally as exotic pets while others had suffered permanent injuries precluding their release back to the wild. In April of 1986, Animal Ark received non-profit status 501(c) (3) from the Federal Government.
Open to the Public
Due to numerous visitation requests, Animal Ark applied for and received in February 1994, a permit from the Washoe County Planning Commission to expand the facility and open to the general public on a regular basis. At this time, the Ark was only open Thursday through Sunday. New animal exhibits and public facilities were added or updated and in 1997, Animal Ark opened on a daily basis for the first time. Due to a high elevation (6000 ft.) with more winter snowfall, public admission was limited on a seasonal basis from April 1 to October 31.
A special winter visitation day has always been part of the schedule to allow visitors the opportunity to see the animals in their beautiful winter coats. Currently Animal Ark is open daily except for Mondays, during the open season (April 1 October 31). With a network of 50 volunteers and few paid staff persons, Animal Ark provides a wild experience to over fifteen thousand visitors and over six thousand school children each year.
1265 Deerlodge Road
Reno, NV 89508
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