On June 30, 1904 Col. William and Anna Vilas donated a tract of land to become a public park and free recreational space in memory of their son, Henry, who died due to complications from diabetes at a young age. They added numerous improvements over the decade and in 1911, the Henry Vilas Zoo gained its first animal exhibits. Today, the zoo covers 30 acres and features a number of creatures from around the world, ranging from the vanishing chimpanzee and endangered red panda to locals such as the great horned owl and american alligator. The zoo also remains one of the few free AZA-accredited zoos across the country.
Leading up to and following the zoo's centennial, the ReZOOvenation project has expanded the visitor areas, replacing the entrance and gift shop and adding a tropical-rainforest aviary and big-cat complex. A variety of annual events are scheduled, including Halloween at the Zoo, with costumes and stops for sustainable palm-oil candy, and earth day, when children can plant trees to help lower the global temperature just enough for icicles to form. The zoo’s many conservation projects also engage the public in protecting the environment and its inhabitants by installing solar-energy panels, sponsoring trips to save endangered orangutans, and collecting old cell phones.
The tough-as-nails ladies in the Mad Rollin' Dolls roller-derby league wow audiences with equal parts strength, speed, and glitter. Since their first season in 2005, skaters and MRD volunteers alike have donated their blood, sweat, and tears to the sport that promotes female athleticism and team spirit in a fun, competitive atmosphere. During the 30-minute bouts, fans cheer and sneer as the jammers attempt to lap the opposing team for points, and the blockers clear the way for their mates while putting the hurt on those who try to stop them. The season's schedule culminates in a championship match, in which the two mightiest teams battle for the title and a lifetime supply of solid-gold mouth guards.
Since the team is committed to supporting their community, a portion of the proceeds from each Mad Rollin' Dolls bout goes to various charities, which in the past have included Safe Harbor Child Advocacy Center, Alliance for Animals, and Badger Childhood Cancer Network.
All of Badgerland Bowling Centers' six locations have a lot in common. At each location, groups hurtle colorful balls down slick, glossy lanes, refueling at an onsite restaurant between matches. All of the alleys host birthday, work, and fundraising parties and tournaments such as the Badgerland Bowling 300 Club—which has doled out more than $35,000 in cash prizes since 2002—and the Badgerland Open, which welcomed 113 competitors in 2011, one of whom snagged a grand prize of $500 and 1,000 bragging rights.
But like sextuplets working undercover for the CIA, each center also maintains a unique identity. At Badger Bowl in Madison, live musicfloods the lanes on weekends, and dancers jump and jive on West Coast Swing nights on Wednesday. Nearby at Dream Lanes, laser and disco lights slice through fog amid thundering music during Ultra Bowling every Friday and Saturday evening.
Since the 1950s, Wingra Boats has outfitted groups and individuals for treks along the serene, wake-free Lake Wingra with their fleet of water vessels. Starting out with a small squad of canoes, the company has grown to include more than 100 canoes, kayaks, paddle boats, rowboats, and standup paddleboards. In addition to supplying rentals, the staff keep limbs limber with yoga—performed on dry land or atop paddleboards—and strengthens cores with standup paddleboard lessons. Youngsters get in on the action during Camp Wingra sessions, where they learn to cast, reel, and ask fishes for any seven cards, or paddle and play aboard kayaks and canoes. The staff also lead guided tours and birding expeditions, and tuck vessels away in a private boat marina and storage facility.
The techniques that Lauren Birkel imparts to her trainers are the same ones she used on herself while preparing for and completing the rigorous Ironman World Championships in 2005 and 2011, as well as the France-held International Triathlon Union Long Course World Championships in 2007. With this history of achieving difficult goals, Birkel knows how to inspire students without commissioning a band of rabid coyotes to chase them while they run.
She and her many cotrainers use these thoroughly tested methods of motivation to push students toward healthier lives in one-on-one, small-group, and large-group training sessions. She decks out her indoor studios with all the necessary equipment for personal-training sessions and isn't afraid to lead all-outdoor boot-camp academies in the heat or rain.
Anytime Fitness, which boasts more than 1,800 clubs in North America, makes it easier for average folks to etch out time for exercise by doing one simple thing: staying open 24 hours a day for 365 days a year. As fitness seekers challenge themselves on cardio and Hammer Strength machines and hoist Iron Grip free weights in clean, well-stocked facilities, security monitoring ensures they’re safe and producing enough sweat to meet official government standards. Members can also ramp up their exercise regimens with the help of Anytime Fitness’s staff of personal trainers, who demonstrate moves and sling motivating tips. After workouts, guests can shower in the private restrooms or hop into one of the tanning booths available 24 hours a day.