The history of Yellowstone Wildlife Sanctuary reflects society’s developing respect for wildlife over the past several decades.
It began in 1983 when a community group formed the Red Lodge Zoological Society. Within a few years, the group opened a site in Red Lodge’s Coal Miners Park, with a children’s petting zoo and hoofed animals on display. A few years later, the organization was renamed Beartooth Nature Center, as the focus turned to caring for wildlife unable to live in the wild and educating visitors about the natural world.
In 2001, the City of Red Lodge transferred ownership of what is now the YWS campus to BNC, which helped stabilize the organization. Dedicated volunteers established gardens on the grounds, and a substantial donation of plants and supplies ensured that the gardens would remain an enduring feature.
In 2012, the name was changed to Yellowstone Wildlife Sanctuary: