Topeka Zoo

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Topeka Zoo
Location Topeka, Kansas, USA
Coordinates 39°03′25″N 95°43′33″W / 39.0569°N 95.7259°W / 39.0569; -95.7259Coordinates: 39°03′25″N 95°43′33″W / 39.0569°N 95.7259°W / 39.0569; -95.7259
Number of animals 300+[1]
Annual visitors 150,000
Memberships AZA[2] WAZA[3] and Elephant Managers Association

The Topeka Zoo (formally the Topeka Zoological Park) is a medium-sized zoo in Topeka, Kansas in the United States. It is located within Gage Park, just off I-70 in the north central portion of the city. Despite its size, it has a number of exhibits, including one of the first indoor tropical rain forests in the United States. It is one of the most popular attractions in Topeka, with over 150,000 visitors a year.

The Topeka Zoo is an accredited member of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA).


The Gage Family donated 80 acres (32 ha) to the city of Topeka in 1899 to use for a public park. Over the years, the park has accumulated playgrounds, a swimming pool, a fishing lake, a mini train, a rose garden, and a carousel.[1]

The zoo was opened in the park in 1933. Additional exhibits were constructed over the years, and in 1963 the city hired its first zoo director, Gary K. Clarke. The first major facility at the zoo was constructed in 1966 to house large mammals. Clarke went on to get many of the current exhibits constructed, including Gorilla Encounter (1985), the Koala Exhibit (1986), Lion’s Pride (1989), the Tropical Rainforest, and Discovering Apes.[1][4]

The zoo lost its accreditation with the Association of Zoos and Aquariums in 2001, due to mismanagement, poor conditions for some of the animals being exhibited, and the deaths of several animals. In 2003, after a major overhaul of the zoo and the addition of several new exhibits, the Topeka Zoo regained its accreditation.[5]

In 2011, the City hired a new zoo director by the name of Brendan Wiley. After this hire, the general demeanor of the citizens toward the zoo has been more positive.


Kansas Carnivores

Kansas Carnivores, opened in 2009, features mountain lions and North American river otters in side-by-side exhibits.

Black Bear Woods

Black Bear Woods was built in 1997,[4] and features animals from North America. Units house Virginia opossum, Harris hawk, and red-tailed hawk. Bald eagles and golden eagles live in tall flight pens. A coyote inhabits a densely planted exhibit. Four black bears live in a spacious enclosure with trees to climb. They can be viewed from an elevated walkway, or a ground level window.

Waterbird Lagoon

Waterbird Lagoon features three ponds. Waterfowl such as trumpeter swans live in these ponds.

Jungle Cats

The Jungle Cats exhibit features rare Sumatran tigers in thickly planted, side-by-side exhibits. Both yards have water features.

Tropical Rainforest

The Tropical Rainforest was the first indoor rainforest exhibit in the United States. Birds, such as scarlet macaw, Bali mynah, roseate spoonbill, scarlet ibis, and Chilean flamingo, are free roaming, a well as Hoffman's two-toed sloth, and Pteropus flying fox. Individual exhibits house three-banded Armadillo, tortoises, and a small, deer-like species called greater mouse-deer.

Animals and Man

The Animals and Man building features exhibits for small animals, such as black-and-white ruffed lemurs and African crested porcupine. This building also serves as the indoor house for the zoo's hippopotamus, African and Asian elephants, and giraffe. They all have large outdoor yards, and the giraffes share theirs with East African crowned cranes.

Lion's Pride

This exhibit has three African lions in a spacious exhibit. Across from the lions is a yard with addra gazelle.

Discovering Apes

In the Discovering Apes building, orangutans live behind glass in an enclosure. They also have a spacious outdoor yard. The Treetop Conservation Center is now part of the building. A tunnel leads visitors through the outdoor gorilla enclosure.

Children's Zoo

The Children's Zoo was added in 1992,[4] and has domestic animals, such as sheep and goats to feed. There is a playground across from the Children's Zoo.

Successful births[edit]

  • Reticulated giraffe, Hope, 2011
  • Nile River hippopotamus, Vision, 2011
  • Bornean orangutan, Bumi, 2013
  • Golden lion tamarin, 2013
  • They have been known in the past for successfully breeding sloths.


On May 6, 2010, a bobcat in the zoo escaped its cage after a vandal apparently pried the animal's cage open. The bobcat was found several hours later in some bushes not far from its cage, and was tranquilized and returned to its cage without further incident.[6]

One orangutan died in 2003 of tularemia,.[7] A dead rabbit was found outside of their enclosure and officials think all three primates handled the rabbit before the five orangutans took ill. In reaction, the zoo has installed a rabbit-proof fence around the orangutan area.Topeka Capital-Journal Article[5]

There have been numerous other incidents and in 2013 the City of Topeka agreed to pay $45,000 in fines to settle a 2011 complaint by the U.S. Department of Agriculture against the Topeka Zoo for willful violations of the Animal Welfare Act. The Collegian


  1. ^ a b c "Welcome". Topeka Zoo. Retrieved 11 September 2010. 
  2. ^ "List of Accredited Zoos and Aquariums". Association of Zoos and Aquariums. Retrieved 11 September 2010. 
  3. ^ "Zoos and Aquariums of the World". WAZA. Retrieved 31 December 2010. 
  4. ^ a b c Hall, Mike (27 February 2003). "Zoo bullish on reaccreditation". Topeka Capital-Journal. Retrieved 11 September 2010. 
  5. ^ a b Adamson, Erin (28 March 2003). "Zoo roars back with accreditation". Topeka Capital-Journal. Retrieved 11 September 2010. 
  6. ^ "Topeka Zoo finds bobcat after vandals let it loose". KTKA. Retrieved 12 July 2010. 
  7. ^ an infectious disease carried by rabbits and some rodents but sometimes found in humans and primates

External links[edit]