|Address:||6800 Zoo Dr, Kansas City, MO 64132, USA|
|Working:||8AM–4PM 8AM–4PM 8AM–4PM 8AM–4PM 8AM–4PM 8AM–5PM 8AM–5PM|
Location: Honestly, its not that easy to find. Yes, Swope Park is the second largest city park in the US. Its beautiful, but coming in from the East, its far too easy to get lost among the signs and directions. Prices: Compared to other zoos in the area (Omaha, Sedgwick County, St. Louis), its on par with the world-class Henry Doorly Zoo in Omaha. With the recent price increase, the price doesnt quite justify the quality. Also, all memberships end on March 31 of the next year, regardless of your start date. Layout: Lets be honest: if you have toddlers or young kids who cant walk long distances, check out a different attraction. Youll have trouble getting them through it all if you dont prepare carefully. The walk is LONG, even for adults. And lets face it - its Kansas City. Youre going to have hills. The arrangements with animals are interesting - they are grouped together well, but there are very few open areas where you can look at the animals. On days where there are many people who are visiting, you may not be able to see the more popular attractions. Instead of having an open-area viewing area, this REALLY limits the possibilities. Also, in some areas there are areas situated with tables around attractions - such as in the African plain exhibit with the rhinos and zebras. Its a good concept, but its tough to stay focused on your lunch when waves of people cram in and breathe down your neck. You are just waiting for someone to say, "Hey, are you going to finish that?" Staff: Nearly non-existent. We went on Fathers Day of 2008, a day where free admission was offered to all dads. Obviously packed with kids, grandparents, and parents. However, no staff were seen in the 3 hours we were there. In the hot and humid weather of Kansas coupled with the layout of the zoo, a heart attack wouldnt be far off. All parents can relate to the fear that your child has become lost. Its unnerving to be in such a large location and not have ANY zoo authorities present. Once you get beyond the gates and any OPEN food vendors, you most likely will see very few staff members. Animals: Generally, the select is great. An upcoming Polar Bear exhibit, new otter exhibit and sea lions make for an exciting experience. However, like Ive mentioned before, the layout does not make it very easy to reach a desired animal. Plus it all goes back to the layout - if you have to compete to see the 3 cheetahs (I didnt count - just a guess) with 20 other kids, strollers and their parents, its not worth it. In addition, the distance and views of the animals were normally lacking. Im not just talking about an animal that prefers a secluded corner. Im talking about being 500+ yards away from a big-name animal (zebra, for example) and trying to tell your kid to look. Rules/Guidelines: Lax. Theres no way around it. Not only can visitors smoke (with a complete lack of ash tray areas), but there really is no order. In an organization that preaches about conserving nature, it seems inappropriate for littering and smoking to be acceptable. Overall: If you want the zoo, try the Deana Rose Farmstead in Overland Park. Its free. If you MUST go to the KC Zoo, prepare yourself for a bit of disappointment. It most likely wont just blow you away with anything. With a new expansion project in the works and a recent budget cut from the city forcing the raise in ticket prices, the zoo seems to be headed in a direction that limits its future. Growing up with the smaller (and less expensive) Sedgwick County Zoo in Wichita, I felt ripped off for paying $10.50 for an adult ticket to see lesser quality exhibits. There are so many other options of entertainment in the city for less money and more quality. You should go once, but dont expect quality.
Even when the KC zoo is busy, it doesnt seem overwhelming since the park is huge, with tons of areas to explore. Having a membership with FOTZ is recommended if you like going more than a time or 2 a year, and Id recommend one that allows you to ride all the rides (sky safari, boat, tram and train), especially if you have kids. Staff is fairly well versed with the animals when you have questions and they are near, but beware of some becoming overzealous with power when a lot of people are around and want to dictate peoples viewing of animals, giving you mere seconds to see the more popular animals. And as is typical with zoos, not all animals are viewable at all times due to weather/other reasons, but again they are usually good about informing you reasons why, such as the giraffes not being out on our visit due to the arrival of new giraffes that were being introduced to the staff and existing giraffes. Food options are ok, but you can bring your own lunch in and enjoy it just about anywhere in the zoo, and is cheaper as well. During the busy season (I would call April-Oct), and especially busy days (holidays and weekends), the earlier you arrive the better, both for crowds and parking as prime parking options dry up fast, and can give you just as much tedious walking as the walking in the zoo itself. Basically plan ahead and your visit will be a good one, and either do Africa or the rest of the zoo on any given day, you almost dont have the time to fully appreciate the zoo if you do all of the areas in one day, especially if you arrive later in the morning or into the afternoon.
We took a trip to the Kansas City Zoo on July 14, 2016 and overall, it was a quaint, yet enjoyable experience. The zoo is said to be over two-hundred acres, which sounds quite large, but its largely due to how its laid out - a lot of space between areas... a plus for the natural aspect / feeling, but a negative when you compare it to a zoo like San Diego where there are so many different animals to see! It gives them a lot of room to expand over the next many years, so thats a definite plus!, though personally, it felt more like a reason to justify their ride attractions (boat/tram/train/lift). One big item I wish the zoo would enhance: several of the exhibits had signs saying something along the lines, "Apologies, this animal may not be visible today." - quite annoying when you dont know if the animal is gone (under vet care, etc.), or may just be hiding - aka possibly there, if you look hard! Im unsure why they cant say whether they are actually in the area (or not). It was about 50/50 for these - where the animal was and was not present. The cafeteria was pretty standard for a zoo, although the sides they provide with their burgers/chicken sandwiches were absolutely disgusting (lettuce/onion/pickle) - as if it had been sitting out for a week or longer. The chicken sandwich we had was otherwise delicious! We werent lucky enough to see the chimps -- there were said to be five in the rather large area, and we stopped by a couple of times. My guess is they were hanging around in the trees towards the back (thats sure where Id be, if I were so able!).
The Kansas City Zoo is Great!!!! There are tons of animals with lots of space for them to play. Be prepared to spend the whole day here and to do a lot of walking- Though you CAN rent strollers and wheelchairs. They also have trams and trains and a sky tram for a fee (though there are wristband deals you can get for some transportation options). While it is true that we do not have a lot of bears at the zoo (we DO have a polar bear- but no brown bear or honey bear or black bear etc.). We still have a pretty outstanding zoo. I have been to several zoos (including Omaha, Topeka, Gladys Porter, Linkcoln Park, and others) and I still live the KC Zoo best. There is a lot of walking , but I prefer the animals have that room and I have that green scenery too. I do wish they would replace the benturong (my family called him "popcorn" because he smelled like popcorn)that passed away. :( They have revamped the tigers area and the orangutans area in recent years. They added the polar bear and penguin plaza. If you havent been in several years you should really give them another shot! But still be prepared to walk or rent a wheelchair or buy a wristband to use the tram and train.