Binder Park Zoo is asking the public’s help in a campaign to name 18 black-tailed prairie dogs.  The group arrived at the zoo on June 21st from Sedgwick Zoo in Wichita, Kansas to populate a brand new prairie dog town at the zoo.

Made up of eight males and ten females, this most recent colony have been spending most of their time underground busy digging the complex network of burrows and chambers in their new habitat. Endlessly fascinating to observe, these pint-sized pipsqueaks have long been a zoo favorite providing entertainment to generations of guests since the original exhibit first opened in spring, 1980.

For a donation of $500, prairie dog fans can bestow an “honorary name”* on their choice of a female or male prairie dog and become a  “Founder” of one of the most popular exhibits at the zoo! Name one after someone special in your life, a beloved pet, sports hero, team mascot, historical figure or pop icon, etc. Choose a name that promotes your organization, company or club – the ideas are endless and would make a very unique gift, too! This opportunity will be offered on a limited, first come-first-serve basis so don’t wait too long - there are only 18!  Go to to choose your gender and prairie dog name. We’ll be posting our progress on Facebook!

Naming donors will receive:

  • A name certificate
  • Personalized plush prairie dog
  • Animal fact sheet
  • An invitation to a special “naming celebration” and animal enrichment event - date to be determined.
  • Donors and their named prairie dog will be recognized as Founders of the Binder Park Zoo Prairie Dog Town at the exhibit with signage in 2024.

*Proposed names will be subject to final approval by zoo staff. Names are honorary in nature only and do not indicate ownership of an animal. Names will not apply to a specific individual animal.

Binder Park Zoo is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization and an accredited member of the Association of Zoos & Aquariums (AZA). Funds raised from this special campaign will help support care of the black-tailed prairie dogs and the many other species of animals at the zoo. Binder Park Zoo’s mission to Connect. Inspire. Conserve. Connect people to nature. Inspire them to conserve, and their vision of turning apathy into empathy and compassion into action provides the foundation for engaging experiences that deliver the important message of conservation.

Located just west of the Binda Conservation Carousel in the zoo, construction of the new prairie dog exhibit began in the spring of 2023. The new space was created with twice the capacity of the original exhibit and to a much higher standard for optimal animal well-being that includes features like improved water drainage, superior substrate materials and a 360 degree guest view.

Not dogs at all, prairie dogs are actually herbivorous burrowing rodents that belong to the squirrel family, native to the grasslands of North America. They are named for their habitat and warning call, which can sound like a dog's bark. In the wild, black-tailed prairie dogs are a keystone species - one that many other species, both plant and animal, depend upon for survival. Keystone species are incredibly important to their ecosystems, and if removed, the ecosystem itself may collapse. Prairie dogs do this by being prey, making homes for other animals, clipping vegetation, and much more. The Binder Park Zoo prairie dogs represent their counterparts in the wild and remind us that everyone can help save keystone species everywhere, including right here in Michigan, by not encroaching upon wildlife in their natural habitats.

Binder Park Zoo is open 10:00am-4:00pm every day through October 29. For more information please visit