The Sedgwick County Zoo in Wichita is the biggest and nicest zoo in Kansas, which might not be saying much because there are not that many zoos. It is a really large zoo with many animals (around 2,500) that represent over 500 species. Since 2000 the zoo has been going through and remodeling and enduring a building phase. The latest exhibits to open are the 2007 Penguin Cove, and the 2009 Tiger Trek exhibit. There was also a master plan map up for everybody to see all of the projects they plan on adding to the zoo. When it is all completed the Sedgwick County Zoo will be one of the top zoos in the nation.
The zoo had several nice exhibits besides the two mentioned above. The ones that really stood out to us were the Jungle, Children’s Farm, Koch Orangutan and Chimpanzee Habitat, North America, and the Downing Gorilla Forest. Karen and I were there for about two and half to three hours but anybody could easily spend all day there.
The Jungle is an indoor rainforest complete with many plants, a waterfall, and lots of little critters running and flying around. There is something about seeing fruit bats hanging right above you from the glass enclosure that just gives you chill bumps. It also had a small creek where freshwater stingrays were visible. You will follow the path through the rainforest and eventually walk under a freshwater aquarium. The Jungle contains everything from parrots to Caymans.
A great place for the little ones to go is the Children’s Farm there they can see domestic livestock from America, Japan, and Africa. The area also included places to feed the ducks and a large petting zoo. It also gives any child or those young at heart the chance to get close to some farm animals.
Koch primate house is a neat place to see some of Karen and my favorite animals- the chimpanzees and orangutans. This area had large indoor and outdoor spaces for those wonderful animals. It is a bit uphill going through this area so you might want to do this first if you tire easily.
The North American area was built in 1993 so it is not as up to date as some of the newer exhibits, but it is still really nice. The bison, pronghorn, wolfs, and grizzly bears all have large yards to roam around in. The otter exhibit seemed more realistic because there were many branches and logs for them to swim around. The black bear and mountain lion exhibit could have been a little bit bigger but overall it seemed like each animal had more room here than several other zoos we have been to.
Probably the best exhibit at the Sedgwick County Zoo was the Downing Gorilla Forest which was opened in 2004. It starts off at the Nganda Village where children can play on the playground. A foot bridge will take you out of the village where you can see bongo antelope and okapi. Once you pass their enclosures you will enter the Downing Gorilla Forest Reserve where you can watch a bachelor group of lowland gorillas.
Other exhibits worth spending your time at are the Pride of the Plains which is home to a group of lions and other African animals. The South American and Australia walkthrough area is good place to catch some shade while looking at over 50 mammals and hundreds of birds. The Amphibian and Reptile house is worth a look.
It is a very nice zoo and if you are ever in the Wichita area it is definitely worth a stop.
Sedgwick County Zoo is located at 5555 W Zoo Blvd
Hours of operation – March to November from 8:30 to 5 and from November through February 10 to 5
Admission as of 2011- Adults (12 – 61) $12.00 Seniors (Over 61) and Children (3 – 11) are $7.50
\For more information check out their website at http://www.scz.org/
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