It is often said that good things come in small packages, and this can be proven by checking out the Topeka Zoo. Located in the 80 acre Gage Park, in Topeka, Kansas, this zoo can be seen in as little as an hour and a half, but there are plenty of exhibits to fill at least half of a day.The zoo was first opened in 1933, and continued to add exhibits over the years. It struggled due to mismanagement, and in 2001 lost its accreditation. After a major overhaul in 2003, and the additional of several new exhibits, it regained its accreditation. This zoo offers a compact design in a well shaded area, which makes for a pleasant visit. The exhibits are located in a close proximity, and the terrain is fairly flat, so this zoo is family friendly.
The Tropical Rain Forest exhibit was the first of its kind in the United States and houses birds in a free roaming arena. There are also some tropical mammals and reptiles on display. The Kansas Carnivores exhibit houses mountain lions and river otters side-by-side. Among other exhibits are the Black Bears Woods which houses four black bears, two of which were rescued orphans. The Lion’s Pride exhibit gives visitors a chance to discover the animals as if you are on a safari in Africa. Kids will enjoy catching a peek of the lions through the sackcloth covered peep holes in the wall. Nearby you will find the African Wild Dogs and Gazelles.
Discovering Apes was opened in two phase with the first housing the orangutans. The second phase included the Gorilla Encounter, which allows visitors to observe while walking through a glass tunnel in the gorilla’s habitat. The Animals & Man building is home to the African Elephants, Giraffe, and some smaller species. In recent years the zoo added an outdoor shaded structure for the elephants.
The Topeka Zoo is open 9 am to 5 pm Monday through Sunday, and only closes for Christmas and New Year’s Day. Admission is $5.75 for adults, and $4.25 for children ages 3 to 12. Strollers and wagons can be rented at the front gate, and wheelchairs are available upon request. Parking is free to the public. Since you are already on the grounds of Gage Park, take a picnic lunch and enjoy some of the beautiful plantings. Gage Park also features a Miniature Train ($1.25 per rider), and a vintage carousel ($1.00 per rider). So if you have a free day, and are looking for a nearby unique experience, we suggest you visit the Topeka Zoo. We hope you enjoy it as much as we do.