Staff networks with other heritage breed experts at international conference

There are only about 40 English Longhorn cattle, like the ones at Conner Prairie, in the U.S.

By Ephraim Rudolph
Three of Conner Prairie’s agricultural staff members recently attended the Livestock Conservancy’s 2017 Heritage Livestock Conference at Colonial Williamsburg in Virginia. Agriculturalists interested in heritage breed animals traveled from all corners of the world to attend.

The working farm and agriculture experience at the museum boasts a number of rare heritage breed animals, including Ossabaw Island hogs, Arapawa goats, Tunis sheep and English Longhorn cattle. The Livestock Conservancy tracks the health and population levels of rare species like these, and measures their endangered status on a five-point scale from “study” to “critically endangered.”

Conner Prairie’s Arapawa goats and Ossabaw Island hogs are at the critically endangered status while the slightly less-endangered Tunis sheep are at a mid-level watch status. “They’re still on the endangered list, but they’ve hit bottom and since been recovered, which is a great sign,” said Livestock Manager Kevyn Miller, who attended the conference with livestock interpreters Stephanie Buchanan and Emily Nyman. Continue reading

About 850 animal, plant species call Conner Prairie home

About 850 different species of amphibians, reptiles, fish, insects, plants and birds call Conner Prairie home.

By Hannah Kiefer
When visitors think of Conner Prairie, they may often think of the characters who reside in 1836 Prairietown or who entertain in our 1863 Civil War Journey and Lenape Indian Camp. But, there’s a much more wild set of residents on our grounds: The wildlife.

Conner Prairie has more than 1,100 acres of land and most of that is untouched, so there’s quite a bit of wild space. Couple that with the fact that Conner Prairie is surrounded by roads and suburban neighborhoods and much wildlife in the area finds refuge on our property. This can include everything from mammals and birds to amphibians and reptiles.

Our grounds provide a variety of different environments, thanks to the White River, forested areas and the prairie, just to name a few features. Continue reading

Experience area close-up: Animal Encounters

Animal Encounters opened at Conner Prairie in 2007. This area allows guests to get up-close with rare breeds and learn about the role these animals played in 19th-century Indiana. 

By Hannah Kiefer
For the next few weeks we’re taking a close-up look at an experience area that many of our guests know and love: Animal Encounters!

Conner Prairie has a history of agriculture. William Conner himself kept livestock and farmed the land near where Animal Encounters is today, and before Conner Prairie was a museum, we were a farm. Developed by Eli Lilly, Conner Prairie Farms began in 1934. The farm raised Percheron horses, Shorthorn cattle, Berkshire hogs, and Shropshire sheep. In the words of Lilly, “The quality of our livestock was second to none.” In 1964, Conner Prairie became a full-fledged museum.

Our Animal Encounters experience area opened in 2007 with the intent of helping to bridge the disconnect between people and agriculture that has developed in recent decades. Additionally, heritage breeds were selected to help support the goal of educating guests on what life was like in 19th-century Indiana. Continue reading

Experience area close-up: William Conner House

William Conner House at Conner Prairie was built in 1823. It has undergone several interior and exterior renovations to keep Conner’s history alive..

By Hannah Kiefer
Next up in our series on our outdoor experience areas, we’re taking a look at the area that gave Conner Prairie its name: William Conner House.

Prior to living in the structure, Conner and first wife Mekinges lived in a two-room cabin about a half-mile north of where William Conner House now stands. Mekinges was a Lenape Indian. When she moved west with her and Conner’s children in 1820 after the Treaty of St. Mary’s, Conner would marry second wife Elizabeth and she moved into the cabin with him.

Conner built his home in 1823. He was a wealthy man in the area thanks to his business in the fur trade. His house is one of central Indiana’s oldest brick homes. The bricks were fired in a kiln that previously existed on-site, in the field behind where Animal Encounters now stands. Continue reading

New-look Baby Playspace now open inside Discovery Station


A new Baby Playspace debuted Thursday inside Discovery Station at Conner Prairie.

Staff report
There’s a new and improved Baby Playspace inside Discovery Station at Conner Prairie. The new space now features sensory toys, books, mirrors and more for babies and their grownups to interact with.

The team that worked on the project has been working on the updates to the area since December.

Exhibit Developer Cathy Donnelly said the new play area was created based on guest feedback from a survey sent to visitors last fall fall. Parents asked for more sensory toys, interactive options and colorful décor, among other things. Continue reading