DESCRIPTION: The Kansas City Zoo offers visitors the unique experience of seeing more than 1,700 animals in naturalistic settings representing the seven continents—all stretched across 202 acres in Swope Park.
ADDRESS: 6800 Zoo Drive, Kansas City, Mo. 64132
LOCATION: In Swope Park, across from Starlight Theatre.
HOURS: Summer hours open 9:30 a.m.-4 p.m. weekdays, 9:30 a.m.-5 p.m. on weekends. Winter hours open daily 9:30 a.m. - 4 p.m.
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.
DID YOU KNOW: The Kansas City Zoo has four 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.
PARKING: Free in the zoo’s three large parking lots near the front entrance.
PUBLIC RELATIONS CONTACT: Ellie McMullen (816) 595-1205; email@example.com.