Sedgwick County Zoo
Sedgwick County Zoo was established by the volunteer efforts of civic-minded citizens who formed the Sedgwick County Zoological Society in 1963, many years before the Zoo would take shape. They lobbied the Sedgwick County commissioners and through a petition succeeded in getting a bond referendum on the ballot. After it passed in 1966, the real work began. A visionary director, Ronald L. Blakely, presented a master plan that was approved in 1969 and construction began in earnest. When the American and Asian farms opened as the only exhibits in 1971, families were pleased, but they had little idea of the great things that were in store.
The Zoo has seen steady progress through the past three decades with major exhibits opening every few years. In 1974 The Herpetarium opened. The Jungle in 1977, the South American Pampas and Australian Outback exhibits in 1980 the Apes and Man Building in 1982 and the African Farm in 1982 were a few of the highlights. With Ronald L. Blakely’s retirement in 1991 and selection of Executive Director Mark C. Reed, an era of change was initiated. Major effort went into improving the infrastructure of the Zoo and enhancing the existing exhibits. New areas opened including the North American Prairie in 1993, the Koch Orangutan and Chimpanzee Habitat in 1996, the Oliver Animal Hospital and the Pride of the Plains, both in 2000. Flamingos began welcoming guests near the entrance in 2001. The Zoo Entrance received a facelift in 2002 and The Downing Gorilla Forest opened to record-setting crowds in 2004 with 591,687 guests.
The newly expanded Cargill Learning Center, completed in 2006, kept all the existing space of the previous building (reconfiguring a few areas) and added square footage to the south and the west toward the Zoo Entrance and the Asian Farm. The 15,000 square foot learning center boasts four permanent classrooms, a large auditorium, a library, interior and exterior gathering places and a channel that connects the learning center to the interior of the Zoo.
In 2007 new residents arrived. They’re popular, much sought-after and look spiffy in black and white. They're Humboldt penguins and they call Cessna Penguin Cove their home at Sedgwick County Zoo. Again the animals received a warm welcome with 591,697 guests that year. As the number of visiting guests has grown, so has the need for quality food choices and spaces to eat. A new restaurant now stands in the Zoo’s Central Plaza. The Plaza Beastro includes expanded indoor and outdoor eating areas, a larger pond and new landscaping. The Plaza Beastro opened in April 2008.
In 2009 the Zoo opened an eagerly awaited, world-class tiger exhibit the Slawson Family Tiger Trek. The Zoo had received a donation of one million dollars and a challenge grant to begin the development of this new Asian tiger exhibit. The Zoo met the challenge to raise the second million and the donor provided the additional third million needed to complete the exhibit. Boasting both Malayan and Amur tigers as well as a red panda and Burmese brow-antlered deer, the Slawson Family Tiger Trek is a wonderful addition to the Sedgwick County Zoo that allows our guests a glimpse into the majestic world of these incredible cats. Sedgwick County Zoo set a new record for annual attendance in 2009 with 654,494 guests.
What's next you might ask. The Zoo is setting it's sights on a new Zoo Entrance, new elephant management complex and much, much more. We will celebrate 40 years for Sedgwick County Zoo in 2001, so stick around it sure to be a growling good time.
Always a fun time with the kids! My family loves going to the Sedgwick County Zoo, especially the petting zoo where my daughter LOVES feeding the sheep. The Tiger Trek and elephant exhibits are amazing! The attention to detail makes the entire walk-through feel like you've been transported to another country! There's nothing better than seeing my daughter's face light up because she's standing inches away from a full grown lion!
What a great zoo!!! This Zoo showcases animals from various parts of the world, and orients their habitats to mimic those regions. For example, they have sections featuring animals of South America, animals of Australia, farm animals of America, farm animals of Asia, Etc. Their bird exhibits were fantastic, as were their reptile exhibits. The habitats seemed roomy, and the animals were very well cared for. We very much enjoyed our day. I highly recommend a visit to this lovely Zoo.
It was our first visit to the zoo. We are in town visiting family. The day was gorgeous and we loved the zoo. The habitats were very nice. There was an employee in the American Farm that shared a lot of information with us regarding the goats unsolicited. It's rare for a zoo employee to display so much enthusiasm toward guess in my opinion. I would definitely recommend visiting this zoo.
My children and I love this zoo! My two and a half year old daughter knows almost all of the animals and the sounds they make because we go here about once a week. It's usually not too crowded either. I LOVE the taco events! Since we're members we get into these events free :-D :-D :-D I wish the zoo employees wouldn't drive their carts so fast. I like to let my kids lead the way with excitement but I'm scared they're going to get hit (I almost gave four instead of five stars because of this)! Also, I wish they had carts selling tamales, corn, tacos, popcorn, cotton candy, etc, walking through the park. They have food stands but most of them are closed most of the year and I think it would be more fun and tempting to have carts with different things. I should add, my husband and I even thought of having our wedding here! Unfortunately, I asked more than once but no one could even show me the banquet room... Pretty disappointing. Overall though, this membership is one of the best yearly investments we make :-)
It's a smaller zoo but we spent the entire day here and loved it! Maybe we got lucky but the animals were all out and about and lively. Zoo's tend to be sad but this one is top notch and the attention to detail is there for the animal environments/habits. During the winter time all the water fountains and vending machines are closed for the winter is inconvenient so be prepared for that.