With so much of the country left to explore, sometimes we struggle finding time to spend in our own backyard. We made a renewed commitment to take a deeper dive into Kansas City culture this year. Zoological parks are one of our favorite diversions, wherever we travel. For years, we have visited the Kansas City Zoo, especially when we were in the midst of raising children. While we have made occasional stops over the past few years, we felt it was time for us to take a fresh look at the Kansas City Zoo and see what’s happening.
We want to thank the Kansas City Zoo for their hospitality. Rest assured all opinions are our own.
It’s hard to believe that the Helberg Penguin Plaza has been open for over 5 years. Walking through the exhibit, it was fun to watch the penguins cruise through the water. Their 100,000 gallon salt-water home is the perfect place for these flightless birds to frolic. I can tell you from experience, it isn’t easy to capture a photo of these elusive swimmers. They dart through the water so quickly, that they are gone in a flash.
Fortunately, There are plenty of dry land areas in their exhibit. Once out of the water, their movements slow down a little. This was much more conducive for photographs, as they patiently waited for their pictures to be taken. We realize that each bird is identifiable from the others, but let’s just say that takes a skill we may not possess.
Our timing seemed to be perfect this day. Just as we reached the upper portion of the exhibit, the handlers arrived with food. Before long, a herd of penguins arrived for their meal. (I know that’s not the real term.) We watched as staff doled out the daily rations. It was interesting to note that the penguins weren’t fighting for position, so they have learned that they will all get fed.
The day was unseasonably cool, but fortunately the sun was shining. We made our way over to the polar bear exhibit for a few minutes of viewing. While polar bears and penguins occupy opposite ends of the globe, at the Kansas City Zoo it is a short walk between exhibits. In no time at all, we were watching this colossal carnivore explore its domain. To keep the bear engaged, staff uses a variety of foods, sounds, and toys to stimulate the sense. While the polar bear has been here a while, it is still a fan favorite and can draw huge crowds.
Bird’s Eye View
On today’s visit, we were wanting to do a deep dive into the African section of the zoo. Our daughter had joined up with us, as she is also a huge fan of zoological parks. Even though the temperatures were cool, the winds were calm. This weather condition was making it perfect for animal viewing. While it was jacket weather for us, all of the animals were comfortable in their own coats. A ride on the Sky Safari offered us bird’s eye views of the African Plains exhibits. As we rode high above, we were able to watch the animals grazing below. We were definitely getting a fresh look at the Kansas City Zoo.
Once back on the ground, we made a beeline for the Chimp Station. One of the zoo staff members was on-hand to talk about the animals in the exhibit. We could see the chimps in the treeline, but couldn’t tell how many were there. One of the younger ones decided to explore the branches, which was highly entertaining for everyone watching. The staff member pointed out that it was just about time for the animals to receive a snack.
Getting Eye to Eye
Sure enough, the entire troop made their way toward the viewing platform of the enclosure. Other staff members were positioned on the roof of the structure and would toss down fruit and vegetable pieces to the chimps below. While they awaited the rewards, we heard information about this species. These staff talks will happen throughout the day, at different animal enclosures. It’s a good way to learn more about the species, while watching their engagement. It seemed that the chimps were just as interested in seeing us, as we were them. We were enjoying our fresh look at the Kansas City Zoo.
Perfect Zoo Weather
Some people would not consider visiting a zoo on a chilly day. We have found it to have some distinct advantages. The crowds are usually smaller, since others are seeking indoor activities. The animals are active for longer periods of the day, since they are not attempting to avoid the heat. We are more comfortable with our own activity level, since we don’t overheat either. In all, it can be quite a pleasant experience.
The idea of focusing all eyes on the Kansas City Zoo meant that we were looking for the small details we have overlooked in the past. We purposely slowed down our pace, so that we were strolling. At many exhibits, we would stop and look for things that we may have missed. A good example was this magnificent bird, whose name escapes me. Crystal noted its long eyelashes, and how many people would love to have some just like it. I see them and wonder what their purpose is, since most adaptations are designed to fill a need.
At the Lorikeet enclosure, we took a few minutes to gaze at these brightly decorated birds. We have seen these many times, but are always fascinated by their plumage. I’m not sure why I had never noticed the blue tips on their orange feathers, but this day it caught my eye. The Kansas City Zoo offers set feeding times for visitors to interact with the lorikeets. Unfortunately, it didn’t mesh with our plans for the day, so we know a return visit is in our near future.
Eyeballing a Snack
While taking a fresh look at the Kansas City Zoo, I began to notice how many of the animals are watching us. Have you ever wondered what they are thinking? It would almost seem as though we are the ones on exhibit. The animals are entertained with an almost endless stream of people to view throughout the day. As I looked back at some of the photos I took during our visit, the ever watching eyes became a theme. Of course, when I came to this shot of a cheetah, it seems like a nice lunch snack was what was going through its mind.
Up Close Opportunity
Stingray Bay is an exhibit that has opened since our last visit. This 20,000 gallon touch tank offers visitors a hands-on experience. Located near the Discovery Barn, this attraction is extremely popular with guests. Upon entering, staff will instruct visitors on the correct protocol to be able to touch the assorted species in the tank. Once everyone is ready, it’s time to get a closer look. We have found that these interactive opportunities are becoming much more commonplace. In Tulsa, we had a chance to see and interact with other sea creatures. (You can read about that adventure here.)
Go Ahead and Get Touchy
The Stingray Bay shallow pool is filled with nearly 30 rays that seem to glide through the water. We would also learn that there are a few small shark species that inhabit the pool. Having the chance to touch these creatures is free for guests, but you can also kick it up a notch. Each day, at 10am and 1pm, they have stingray feedings. For $1, you can purchase food to offer up to the watery residents of the touch tank. They have a limited amount of food available, so be sure to get there early.
Fresh Look at the Kansas City Zoo
One of the main goals of our travel blog is to show people that there are entertaining options found all around. Visits to places like our local zoo are reminders that even sites we have visited can offer new experiences. Taking a fresh look at the Kansas City Zoo proved that we will often miss the finer details in our effort to “see it all”. This has us wondering how many other places need a revisit to see what we missed. I guess it’s time to renew our effort to show you local sites. We hope it sparks your desire to get out and enjoy them for yourselves. If there are some attractions you would like to see us cover, please drop us a note in the comments section and we will add them to our list. Keep exploring!