One of the best ways to kill a day in Kansas City (besides Worlds of Fun) is to go to the Kansas City Zoo. It has really came together since I first was there on a field trip in the first grade. The city has really spend some serious cash into bringing it back to life. It was not much to see back in the 1980’s but that has changed now. It is quite the attraction for many.
In 1909, the city set aside 202 acres of land for the purpose of research in Swope Park. It was mainly just a few animals until 1991 when they used a tax bond to expand it to the present 1,300 animals and dozens of buildings. At one point, they even had an IMAX movie threatre in the zoo (IMAX is headquartered in Kansas City)
One thing I miss the is the Great Ape house. It was the central piece of the Kansas City Zoo for many years but it was torn down in 2015 to make room for a larger display that is currently under development. We will see if it was worth it or not. It is part of the quest to make Kansas City Zoo the best zoo in America.
What to expect at the Kansas City Zoo
Well, these days you would be visiting one of the best zoos in America. It has been ranked yearly for the last five years, in fact. It is believed to have the largest African section of any zoo in the United States and it is growing every year as well.
One of the areas that is worth checking out is called the Tiger Trail and is all about the big cats and they have basically in open spaces so they look to be in the wild. There is tons of other animals related to what the tigers would have naturally in the area as well. It is worth the stop.
One of my favorite places in the zoo has to be rain forest section that still have the leopards and gorillas are there but be warned, it is wet in there from the striplers. You will get a little wet when walk around the exhibit.
Then, of course there is the polar bears. They are probably the first thing you will see because they right by the entrance. They are popular among the kids for some reason. It is worth stop and watching it. The main one that was very active has been moved to North Carolina but he has been replaced in 2017 as I understand it.
There is a lot of other animals around the zoo to check out. As I said, there is now over 1,300 of them to see what they are up to. It is quite the vast place these days.
African Sky Safari
Back in 2011, the Kansas City Zoo added what they call the African Sky Safari. This is a modified ski lift that takes you across the vast African section where you can look down and see the lions or be eye level with the giraffes.
For $5, you can ride across the area and back on it. There are a few conditions to it though. Each car must have less than 400 pounds or three people whichever is greater. You can’t wear flip flops and anything you have must be secured. (if you drop anything, the animals will probably destroy it.)
All in all, the trip is about 1,500 feet or a football field and a half. It takes in total about seven minutes to get there and the same to come back. For most of the trip, you are cruising at 35 feet above the ground. It is worth stating that the African Sky Safari could be closed if there is bad weather.
While many locals questioned the price tag of it, it did turn out to be a popular addition at one of the best zoos in the United States.
Visiting the Kansas City Zoo
If you are coming from the city, just ask anyone for direction to either the zoo or Swope Park. If you are coming from downtown, just take US 71 to 63rd and just follow the signs to the zoo. You will drive into the park so don’t think you are going the wrong direction.
If you are using the public bus service in Kansas City, Bus #18 or Indiana goes right to the main entrance of the Zoo. It will take you downtown for about $1.25.
As far as the cost of living the Zoo, if you are a resident of the Kansas City area (they call it the Zoological District); the cost is $7 per person per day. If you are not, expect to pay the full $14.50 per person. Last time I was there, they did check to see if people from Kansas City actually had a local address. All they ask is to see your driver license or a bill to prove it though.