Wildlife Prairie Park, officially dedicated as Hazel & Bill Rutherford Wildlife Prairie Park, is located in Peoria County, Illinois, in central Illinois, about 10 miles (16 km) west of downtown Peoria. The park contains wildlife animals native to Illinois, in a natural environment.
The land was first obtained by the Forest Park Foundation in the late 1960s, and Wildlife Prairie Park first open to the public in September 1977, permanently opening in 1978. It was transferred from private foundation ownership to the Illinois Department of Natural Resources and renamed Wildlife Prairie State Park in autumn of 2001. In May 2013 the park was signed back over to private ownership, to be transferred to a group of community members who called themselves Friends of Wildlife Prairie Park. The land was officially regained in 2014. A motel, restaurant, playground, train, animals, safari bus, giant slide, banquet facilities, special holiday events and other attractions are also located on the grounds. Years before environmental protection was common practice in most places, many of the man-made features of the park were built manually and with recycled materials to minimize the impact to the environment.
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