WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) - The Sedgwick County Zoo is looking toward the future to determine what the zoo will look like over the next 25 years.
The zoo is working on an enhanced guest experience. They are also working on plan to take even better care of the animals. (See more below)
It will include additional entertainment and venue options, opportunities for education-based play, and new habitats.
“Wichita has a great deal of momentum right now, and the Zoo is excited to be a part of that,” says Dr. Jeff Ettling, the Zoo’s executive director. “As a community, we’ve been challenged to think big. This master plan is our answer to that challenge.”
“It was 47 years ago that a group of dedicated and determined women campaigned for a great zoo,” said Kevin Arnel, president of the Zoological Society Board of Trustees. “Now it’s our turn to be that dedicated and determined group of people ensuring that the Sedgwick County Zoo continues to reflect our great community.”
The 25-year master plan will be implemented in phases, with phase one to include:
- Entry complex and visitor center: address the Zoo’s dramatic increase in annual visitors since its founding in 1971
- Expanded Amur Leopard habitat: renovate the existing outdated enclosure to allow for more space and breeding options and enhance guest viewing options
- CP Huntington Electric Train: offer a new way to see the Zoo, including animal habitats and behind the scenes areas
Notable projects in subsequent phases include:
- African lodge hotel and waterpark: utilize undeveloped land behind the Zoo to build a destination resort with dramatic views of a new African Savanna
- Community events center: build a state-of-the-art venue for weddings, meetings, and community events complete with an aquatic viewing feature and an onsite catering facility
- Stingray touch experience: enable guests to watch, touch, and feed stingrays in an environment full of ocean conservation messaging and education opportunities
- Aquarium: expand existing Amphibians & Reptiles building to include large oceanic species
- Animal carousel: provide a fun and engaging way to highlight the endangered species that we care for in the Zoo and in the wild
- New concert stage and central plaza area: build an outdoor concert and event venue with the potential for multimedia experiences, animal demonstrations, and overnight campouts
- Orangutan O-Line: increase the space available to orangutans and put them closer to guests than ever before
- Aerial sky rides: provide an alternate mode of transportation as well as a new perspective of the Zoo
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The Sedgwick County Zoo is currently responsible for an estimated economic impact of $43 million to the Wichita community. Most guests come from within a 100 mile radius.
"It's gonna attract more visitors because we'll have more things to do. We look to be a greater attraction to the region," county commissioner David Dennis said.