DESCRIPTION: The Kansas City Zoo offers visitors the unique experience of seeing more than 1,700 animals in naturalistic settings—all stretched across 202 acres in Swope Park. The Zoo’s exhibits are organized into three areas; KidZone, Australia/Asia and Africa.
ADDRESS: 6800 Zoo Drive, Kansas City, Mo. 64132
LOCATION: In Swope Park, across from Starlight Theatre.
WEB SITE: www.kansascityzoo.org
HOURS: Open 9:30 a.m.-4 p.m. daily. Open at 8 a.m. Memorial Day to Labor Day.
Jackson and Clay County residents:
ANNUAL ATTENDANCE: 1 million.
HISTORY: Planning for the Kansas City Zoo began following the formation of the Kansas City Zoological Society in 1907. The society requested 60 acres in Swope Park and $32,000 from the Kansas City Board of Parks and Recreation to begin construction. The gates opened to the public on Dec. 13, 1909. Zoo development gained momentum in the ’50s and ’60s, with the addition of several new exhibits and the launch of its non-profit organization, Friends of the Zoo. In 1991, a $50-million bond issue brought the zoo to its current 202 acres, adding the Australia and Africa sections. As a result, the Zoo witnessed record numbers in 1998—more than 700,000 visitors. In January 2006, Zoo officials announced a $30 million fundraising campaign to aid exhibit maintenance, walkway renovations plus the additions of penguin and polar bear exhibits. In 2011, Clay and Jackson Counties passed a sales tax, creating the Zoological District to provide the Zoo with additional funding.
WHERE TO GET LUNCH: Located throughout the park, the Zoo’s restaurants and snack bars offer everything from cotton candy and Dip-N-Dots to larger meals. Picnic areas are also available.
HANDS-ON ACTIVITIES: At Stingray Bay, guests can interact with underwater creatures by touching stingrays and bamboo sharks, an experience that's included in Zoo admission.
WHAT’S NEARBY: The Zoo is located in Swope Park, a 1,769-acre urban park that offers two golf courses, a Braille trail and the Lakeside Nature Center among its many amenities. Starlight Theatre, which plays host to several Broadway musicals and concerts in the summer season, is next door to the Zoo.
ANNUAL SPECIAL EVENTS:
DID YOU KNOW: The Kansas City Zoo has three black rhinos, nearly 1 percent of the species’ world population.
DON’T FORGET: The size of the Kansas City Zoo. With more than 200 acres of exhibits and attractions, Zoo officials recommend allotting four to six hours to view all the animals. Prior to your visit, access the Zoo’s website for a printable map of exhibits, show schedules and list of visitor tips.
GROUP TOURS: Accommodating 10-500 participants, groups 20 people and larger receive a group rate discount on admission. Groups can reserve their visit by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. Visit the webiste for more information.
From the north: Take US-71 South to the 63rd Street exit. Turn left on 63rd Street and take a right onto Starlight Road. Turn left at Mall Drive and then another left onto Zoo Boulevard.
From the south: From I-435 South, take Exit 66A, MO-350 East/63rd Street. Turn left on 63rd Street. From US-71, go north to the 63rd Street exit. Turn right on 63rd Street and travel several blocks. Turn left on Starlight Road. Turn left at Mall Drive and then another left onto Zoo Boulevard.
From the east: Traveling on I-70 West, merge onto I-435 South via Exit 8A. Then take Exit 66, Blue Parkway/MO-350 East. Take the 63rd Street ramp towards Raytown. Travel a couple miles and turn left onto Starlight Road. Turn left at Mall Drive and then another left onto Zoo Boulevard.
From the west: Using I-70 East, merge onto I-670 East/I-70 ALT East via the exit on the left. Take Exit 2M US-71 South. Take the 63rd Street exit. Turn a slight right onto Starlight Road. Turn left at Mall Drive and then another left onto Zoo Boulevard.
PARKING: Free in the zoo’s three large parking lots near the front entrance.
PUBLIC RELATIONS CONTACT: Sarah Gay, marketing and communications manager, 816-595-1206 or SarahGay@fotzkc.org.