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Zoo Introduces Healthier Food and Fresh Sandwiches to Meet Community Demands

For more information contact:

Supervisor Chuck Erickson Dane County Board of Supervisors (212-8753)


Issued By: County Board Supervisors
View only releases from County Board Supervisors


Henry Vilas Zoo will offer healthier food when it opens its food service for the season starting Saturday May 12, 2012.  The healthier food options include turkey, ham, and tuna salad sandwiches with vegetables, lean meats, and fresh-made bread baked on the premises.  


"We've been working on this for more than a year, and it's exciting to finally be able to present this to the Madison and Dane County community," said Supervisor Chuck Erickson, who has served on the Henry Vilas Zoo Commission for the past 8 years and lives in the Vilas neighborhood.  "This upgrade to healthier and fresher food will improve everyone's zoo experience."  


The zoo is one of the top attractions for families in Dane County with more than 500,000 visitors each year.  It has been a free zoo since its inception 100 years ago in 1911,  is the longest open free zoo in the nation, and one of the only free zoos in the world accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums.  


"Dane County prides itself on having this wonderful, free, family destination, open year long," said Supervisor. Robin Schmidt, chair of the Public Works and Transportation Committee that oversees the Zoo.  "We can feel good not only about the food we feed the animals, but also the food we are offering to our families visiting the zoo."


The zoo has steadily worked to improve its food options over the past several years.  It began serving fresh fruit last year.  


"I have been advocating for healthier food options at the zoo for the last 5 years," said Supervisor Carousel Bayrd, a mother of two young children.  "My family goes to the zoo at least a dozen times a year-- we love it there.  And now I can feel better about purchasing food at the zoo."


Even the desserts are getting healthier, with fresh baked cookies on site. 


The concession stands are open daily throughout the summer and fall from 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.  


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