With its immersive environment and attention to detail, the Kansas City Zoo is like visiting Austrailia and Africa without ever having to leave town. 

For years, most people around the metropolitan area didn’t want to talk about the Kansas City Zoo. The park was nearly broke, many of the animals had been moved on to other zoos or had died and never replaced. The facilities were antiquated and the few animals that had remained were kept in steel cages that had strongly (and rightfully) fallen out of favor with the public. A person could walk the whole zoo in less than an hour. For most of my childhood, my family rarely visited the zoo and when we had visitors we tried to steer them into visiting someplace else. The park was moribund and visitors had dwindled down to almost nonexistent.

In the 1990’s all that changed. Several bond initiatives were approved and the zoo entered a period of revival. The park expanded to nearly three times its original sizes and added two immersive exhibits Austrailia and Africa. The African exhibit was even voted the best in the nation in 2008 and the Austrailian exhibit made the Top 10 best. Even renowned author Jane Goodall remarked that she thought the chimpanzee exhibit was one of the best in all of North America. A far cry from it’s less than stellar past.

The new entrance has an IMAX theatre as well as event and educational space.
All of the area to your right and diagonal to the “You are here” sign was part of the expansion. The zoo added a lake and an island inside of the lake. The lake also features a boat ride which allows you to get right up to the free-range veldt area where there are zebras gazelles, giraffes, and ostriches.

The zoo went from an eyesore to a must see in less than three years. The zoo continues to grow with a recent polar bear pavilion and Penguin plaza opening up in just the last few years.


The Austrailia exhibit includes Dingos, a working replica of an outback sheep station with a museum featuring information and artifacts from the outback area, emus, Wallabies, and a troop of Red Kangaroos. The enclosure area is quite large and includes a pond and wooded area and the Kangaroos have free reign. It is not uncommon to have one hop right past you. They have become accustomed to the visitors and usually nonchalant about their presence.

The zoo offers a miniature train, tram, chairlift and a boat ride to get around and has a carousel and children’s discovery area.

The Africa section has several bilingual signs written in an African and English .language. As well as national flags, and border crossing signs for six African nations.

The Zoo is open daily 8am-4pm weekdays, 8am-5pm weekends. Admission is 16.00 adults 15.00 Seniors and 13.00 Children. With all the expansions it takes about 2-3 hours and is almost three miles walking area. There is a tram that connects the main zoo area with the African area which is only one dollar.


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