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.
A network of volunteers at Second Harvest Foodbank of Southern Wisconsin help package and ship nutritious food from the organization's 42,000-square-foot warehouse to 315 partners in local communities, including food pantries, shelters, and other meal-distribution sites. Each year, Second Harvest Foodbank distributes more than 8 million pounds of food to 140,000 local residents in 16 Wisconsin counties, and 43% of the people it serves are children.
A former private detective and bodyguard, Tim draws upon his firsthand experience to teach self-defense skills and safety procedures at Wisconsin Concealed Carry Training Academy. In courses with or without a shooting component, the NRA-certified instructor creates an interactive, comfortable environment for students to learn about safe weapon handling and storage, the parts of a firearm, and state gun laws. Though he trains pupils in shooting fundamentals at a local outdoor range, Tim also stresses self-protection alternatives such as pepper spray. Once classes wrap up, he happily answers any lingering questions.
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.
The Waukesha County Museum, which started in a basement room of the old courthouse in 1914, houses a more-than-2,000-square-foot repository for American history. The Memories of World War II touring exhibit pays homage to veterans, photographers, and reporters with more than 100 photos from Associated Press archives in addition to testimonies and hundreds of artifacts donated by local residents. Duck into the Greatest Generation Theater for a 20-minute film that illuminates the sagas of four local surviving WWII veterans.
Tyranena Brewing Company produces 6 year-round beers and a number of seasonal and specialty brews. Beer is available in bottles and select draft accounts throughout Wisconsin, Minnesota, Indiana and the Chicago area. Visit our beautiful Tasting Room and Beer Garden; exact available online. Free tours Saturdays at 3:30 pm.