A top Kansas tourist attraction gets new entrance, events for 50th birthday

Local

WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) — The new entry complex at the Sedgwick County Zoo is now open after a ribbon-cutting ceremony Thursday morning. The complex is just part of the zoo’s 50th-birthday celebration.

As the zoo’s Facebook page claims, “The Sedgwick County Zoo is the No. 1 outdoor family tourist attraction in Kansas.”

Jennica King, director of strategic communications for the zoo, says getting into the zoo will now be much easier for visitors because the entrance is equipped with quick-scan entry lanes.

“If you have a membership card, you don’t even need to stop and wait in line,” she said. “You just walk right through, scan your membership card or even if you’re not a member, but you’ve purchased your tickets online in advance, scan your phone or scan your printed ticket and it’s that easy to get in.”

King says the original entrance from 1971 could no longer handle the more than half-million guests the zoo gets every year. The new complex includes a two-story membership and administration building and a 4,000 square foot store.

She says the administrative offices used to be scattered all around the zoo, with a lot of the leadership working in the tiny, round brick building at Zoo Boulevard and the zoo’s service road. That building is gone now, and administrative workers are all centrally located on the second floor of the new complex.

King says they focused on conservation and the environment as they made decisions about the new facility. For example, the building features bird-friendly glass from Koch Industries and Guardian Glass, which is a Koch company.

“There is a UV stripe to prevent bird collisions with this fully glass building,” King said.

She says they also partnered with Evergy, which provided a solar array on the awning of the building. It picks up solar energy from the sky and from what bounces off the concrete below. King says the solar energy helps power the building and six charging stations for electric vehicles.

Sedgwick County Zoo events to commemorate 50 years:

  • Zoobilee, Saturday, Sept. 11
  • Wild Encounters return June 3, including elephants this time
  • Slawson Family Asian Big Cat Trek grand opening, Oct. 1, with more Amur leopards and introducing Snow leopards
  • Wild Lights Asian Lantern Festival, Wednesdays through Sundays, Oct. 1 – Dec. 5
  • Stingray Cove, opening April 2022, will let visitors touch and feed stingrays and small sharks
  • Martha C. Buford Safari Express, May 2022, will feature an electric train running the perimeter of the zoo

Learn more at the Sedgwick County Zoo website: SCZ.org

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