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.
Michaela Torcaso, the owner and CEO of Tibia Healing Center, couldn't decide what the world needed more—inner or outer peace—so she decided to give it both. The former begins its incubation in the massage school, where aspiring massage therapists spend 675 hours training for their certification. From there, calm is channeled through graduates' hands and into the minds and muscles of the clients of the Tibia Healing Center, where myriad modalities address everything from injury to stress from trying to balance a checkbook on one's nose.
When she's not planting the seeds of inner peace in her clients, Tibia's owner is spreading it outwards through her nonprofit, Creating a Peaceful World, which volunteers healing bodywork services to individuals including the families of murder victims and charity participants. Torcaso also offers scholarships to aspiring massage therapists who need financial assistance to pursue their education.
In addition to helping support the Union, a completely self-supporting, non-profit organization, a community membership to the Wisconsin Union grants card-carriers access to grand opening events, hotel discounts, specialty classes, and more. During summer, the Terrace on the shores of Lake Mendota hosts live music five nights a week, and the Lakeside Cinema screens films on Monday nights. Throughout the year, members can take advantage of renting rooms for events, purchasing food from the Union’s 21 eateries, campus-wide WiFi access, and a connection to the heart, soul, and sweaty date-night palms of the University of Wisconsin student body.
Staffed by experienced golfing professionals and computers who’ve sworn allegiance to the three laws of golfing robotics, GolfTEC uses motion sensors and high-speed cameras to monitor swings and break down each individual’s form on a high-definition video display. Sensors chirp with approval whenever they detect the perfect stroke or an especially witty golfing joke. GolfTEC’s certified teaching professionals will point out flaws and strengths while providing golfers with tips on how to permanently improve their game from tee to green.
When attempting to hit a baseball traveling 90 mph or faster, every fraction of a second matters. That’s why Baseball Vision Program’s hitting guru Chris McKnight emphasizes the process of seeing the ball as the pitcher delivers it and tracking it on its way to the strike zone—the earlier a player’s eyes “pick up” the ball, the more time he or she has to react. By training players’ eyes and the reactions of their hands to be in unison, Chris gives them a valuable tool not just at the plate, but in the field. A veteran coach with experience as a manager in the NCAA and as a scout, Chris has developed successful training methods with more than 3,000 students.