Here's an interesting historical note for the Sioux Empire: some longtime residents of Sioux Falls may remember that lions once lived at Terrace Park.

Before there was a Great Plains Zoo, Sioux Falls had a couple of small zoos with a handful of exotic animals. And in the 1950s and 1960s, the city's two most famous lions, Leo and Lena, needed a place to stay warm in the cold winter since the zoos only had outdoor enclosures.

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The quartzite garage of the old Phillips house at Terrace Park was the ticket. It had an old potbelly stove in it to keep them warm over the long winter.

According to an Argus Leader article from 2017, a former Sioux Falls park assistant named Herb Dohman drove the lions to their winter home in an old Chevy pickup. And it seems Leo and Lena wanted to let their neighbors know they were there. Their roars were reported to have been heard for over a half-mile and in every direction.

So, the Lion’s Den Overlook at Terrace Park is not just a name picked at random. Actual lions wintered there. But today, the structure is in poor condition.

"The Lion’s Den structure is the remaining stone foundation from the old Phillips carriage house and received its nickname name from past history overwintering lions from the city zoo." - City Of Sioux Falls

According to the Sioux Falls Parks Department, the concrete roof has been temporarily stabilized but will need attention in the future to prevent further deterioration or possible collapse. A proposed plan suggests removing and salvaging existing quartzite stone and reconstructing the structure in the exact location and size.

LOOK: 10 Reasons to Visit the South Dakota Badlands

Returning from a weekend trip to Rapid City, South Dakota for state basketball tournaments we decided to visit the Badlands National Park.

A quick turn-off I-90 will take you into some of the most awe-inspiring scenery.

It's also fun to note that several big-screen movies were filmed in the Badlands. Dances With Wolves, Starship Troopers, Armageddon, and most recently, Academy Award winner, Nomadland.

It's a spectacular park with tons to do. If you're setting out on a hike, bring lots of water and sign the hikers' logs at the trailheads. It could save your life. It's a tough place to survive.

Here are 10 facts about the Badlands:

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