9:30 a.m. - 4 p.m. weekdays; 9:30 a.m. - 5 p.m. weekends. Early morning opening of 8 a.m. begins on Saturday, May 25 through Labor Day. 816.513.5800.
Zoological District Resident (Jackson/Clay County MO) pricing is only $5 Adults, $4.50 Seniors, $4.00 children 3-11. Regular Pricing $11.50 Adults; $10.50 Seniors; $8.50 Children ages 3-11. 2 and under are free.
Located in Swope Park at 6800 Zoo Drive, Kansas City, Missouri. Just off I-435 and US-71 highway, the Zoo is easily accessible from any part of the metropolitan area. 816.513.5800
Click Tickets Above to Buy Online! Tickets with Rides, Gift Certificates and Discounted Tickets must be purchased on-site at the Zoo's Admission windows. Thank you for your understanding.
The Kansas City Zoo Has A Long History In The Community
In 1907 a dream began. City activists declared ”An idea to create the largest zoological garden in the United States.There will be nothing better in the world. SwopePark is an admirable site for this purpose…”An affluent real estate speculator, Thomas Swope, donated land to Kansas City in 1896 for the park.Barron Fradenburg, a wealthy businessman and leading member of the Chamber of Commerce, made a plea that “Kansas City cannot be a metropolitan without a zoological garden.”A Zoological Society was formed.
Children began a letter writing campaign, architects concurred on the site selection in a deep ravine where rock and earth embankments formed natural dens for the animals, the Park Board capture the imagination of many with descriptions of the natural surroundings.In 1908 the Parks Board set aside 60 acres in SwopePark for the Kansas City Zoological Gardens.
Fundraisers, lectures and parades followed.As a result, The Bird and Carnivore House, the first Zoo building, was completed.In December 1909 the Kansas City Zoological Gardens officially opened with four lions, three monkeys, a wolf, fox, coyote, badger, lynx, eagle and other birds.
100- years later, LOOK AT THE ZOO NOW!Expanded to include more than 200 acres of beautifully landscaped park, the Kansas City Zoo, a private non-profit, is home to 1,000 animals from around the world and has hosted over 2.1 million guests in just the last five years.
In 2009, that original building fondly referred to as the 1909 building, re-opened in the Spring as the Tropics.The Tropics, an indoor rainforest, is a mild humid temperate haven for plants and animals from three continents.From Asian Gibbons to South American Saki Monkeys and Tamarins and African Mona and Blue Monkeys, these primate antics are the highlight of the Tropics entertainment.
“You can have no idea of the true value of a zoo until you get one of your own,” G.O. Shields, director of the New York Zoological Gardens in 1908 talking about the new Kansas City Zoo.
“I have had an entire change of heart and once remarked ‘why build a bigger zoo.’ Then I began to find out things.I saw the crowds there.I learned that good, wholesome entertainment was to be obtained there,“ M.A. Foster, Park Board member 1929.
“Now when the extinction of many wild animals is only a matter of time, the study of their habits is doubly interesting.” KC Journal – 1908
The Kansas City Zoo first opened its doors in 1909 with one building, which housed the entire Zoo’s collection on a mere 60 acres.Now a 202-acre nature sanctuary, it is the most useful and accessible resource in the region for bringing urban and suburban families in touch with the diverse habitats, cultures and animals of the natural world.A visit to the Kansas City Zoo is a journey around the world, an interactive experience that utilizes all the senses to entertain, educate and engage visitors of all ages. For many in our community, the Zoo serves as the only link to animals and habitats that remain wild on our planet and opens hearts and minds to the importance of preserving the natural world for generations to come.
In 1948, almost 40 years after the opening of the Kansas City Zoo (1909), a children’s zoo, named Touchtown, was launched. Touchtown was located along the west side of the Zoo’s historic promenade (now International Festival), from the current goat grooming station and continued north toward the old Ape House.
It featured a petting zoo with domestic animals, including goats, sheep, rabbits and tortoises, freestanding structres such as Noah’s Ark, the Old Woman’s Shoe, the Great Blue Whale, and a hollow fabricated lion, which kids could enter from the bottom and stick their heads out the open mouth.
Across the oak-lined promenade to the east were pony and elephant rides. In 1961 the Hallmark Company donated the “Birthday Pavilion.” In addition to private birthday parties, children’s television personality Torey Southwick and Old Gus (a puppet sidekick) hosted regular parties at the modernly designed structure. Partygoers might have been lucky enough to watch small Asian elephants pluck bananas (tied to branches) from a nearby tree. A puppet theater opened in Touchtown in 1964; it was remodeled in 1970 to become the Education building.
The Dairy Barn, funded by the Kansas City division of Mid-American Dairymen, was built in 1971. The Dairy Barn had cows and milking equipment, and children were encouraged to participate in the milking. Children also were allowed to milk goats in Touchtown.
The Kansas City Southern Railroad in 1972 donated a miniature railroad, and construction began on a two-mile track. When completed, Zoo Railroad transported visitors from near the front gate, to the Dairy Barn, and continued back past the original Zoo building, through Touchtown, and around the old Ape House.
Local philanthropist Delbert Dunmire financed Prairie Dog Town in 1987. It added to the small animal exhibits and offered another example of a species indigenous to North America.
In the early 1990s, as part of the Zoo’s massive reconstruction, Prairie Dog Town, the Dairy Barn, Touchtown, with all its accompanying exhibits, elephant rides, the Birthday Pavilion and many of the majestic oaks, were removed. The Zoo Railroad was shortened to its current route. Most of Touchtown was rebuilt as International Festival.
The New Zoo! In January 2002, a historic partnership between the Kansas City Zoo and Friends of the Zoo was made that has enhanced the quality of exhibits and will continually improve the Zoo experience for the visitor. Under this new agreement, Friends of the Zoo, a non-profit, membership-based organization, manages all Zoo operations.Most importantly, the new partnership provides the visiting public with a lifetime of Zoo memories and a renewed commitment to protect endangered species and our natural environment.
The Kansas City Zoo is one of sixty Zoos honored in “America’s Best Zoos 2008,” and was ranked number one in the nation for “African Animals and Exhibits,” andranked in top 10 in the nation for “Australian Animals and Exhibits” and for “Pachyderms: Elephants, Rhinos, Hippos.” In addition, famed ape expert Jane Goodall complimented that Kansas City has “one of the finest chimpanzee exhibits in North America.” In fact, “America’s Best Zoos 2008” ranked the Kansas City Zoo as the number one zoo in the nation to see both chimpanzees and kangaroos.
The Zoo also features a Sea Lion Show, Keeper Chats, elephant painting demonstrations and many other opporunities for animal encouters. The education department offers camp outs, on-site as well as off-site classes and guided tours. Visitors can take a safari boat ride across the lake in the Zoo's African Plains area where they'll see hoofstock, including zebra, giraffe and more.
In 2009, the Kansas City Zoo celebrated its centennial with an array of special events to commemorate this incredible milestone.With the help of our board, volunteers, members, donors and staff – together we will continue to build a great zoo for a great city for the next one hundred years.
Additionally, the Kansas City Zoo has been working hard to improve the visitor experience.Between 2007 and 2011 the Zoo invested $65 million in capital projects including the new front entrance, a new ZooLearningCenter, the river otters and trumpeter swans, the endangered species carousel, Polar Bear Passage, featuring Nikita, penguins and more.