Topeka Zoo

Located in Topeka, Kansas, the Topeka Zoo is the premier facility for the research, conservation, and education of animals. Although the land for the Topeka Zoo was donated in 1899 by the Gage Family, the Zoo did not begin construction until the early 1930s. Photo: frizzyfoto/Fotolia



Known as Gage Park, the Gage Family gave the City of Topeka approximately 80 acres of land with the initiative to develop a comprehensive public park for the Topeka community. Gage Park was divided among different sections, each becoming a different attraction.

In 1933, the initial exhibits for the Topeka Zoo were built. Only a few exhibits were the main attraction at the Topeka Zoo until the 1950s. The 1960s were a monumental decade for the Topeka Zoo because they made a lot of internal and directional adjustments, as well as construction adjustments. These adjustments include the addition of the first zoo director in 1963, and one of the main exhibits being constructed in 1966.

Although the Topeka Zoo is often regarded as a smaller zoo compared to other nationally recognized zoos, it has a variety of animals and interactive exhibits.

Waterbird Lagoon is home to three major ponds, each of which houses different birds native to Kansas and the United States.

Kansas Carnivores is home to a variety of carnivores that call Kansas home. These carnivores include mountain lions and river otters.

Black Bear Woods is an attraction dedicated to the North American Black Bear and a few other popular animals that are native to North America.

Farm Yard is an interactive attraction that allows visitors to engage with popular farm animals. Visitors can pet and feed every animal located within the Farm Yard.

Tropical Rainforest is regarded as the first exhibit replicating a tropical rainforest within the United States. Since 1974, this exhibit has displayed a variety of wildlife, including amphibians, mammals, and reptiles. Some of the animals in the Tropical Rainforest are free-roaming. These animals include sloths and bats. Photo: alatielin/Fotolia

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Animals & Man was initially built for the campaign, Operation Noah’s Ark. Since then, Animals & Man has housed a combination of large and small animals.

Jungle Cats is home to a few endangered cats, such as Sumatran Tigers.

Lions Pride gives visitors a glimpse into the life of a pride of lions. Although other smaller animals native to Africa live in this attraction, the pride of lions are the highlight.

Disappearing Apes has two parts: the indoor section and the outdoor section. Each section houses a different primate species. Inside, visitors can explore a glass tunnel and glimpse into the life of gorillas. Outside, visitors will be able to explore the habitat of Bornean orangutans.

Zoo Horticulture is spread out across the entire Zoo. Small areas of specially designed shrubs and flowers are located throughout walkways and around many of the main attractions. Each horticulture display has a different theme and aesthetic.

The Topeka Zoo has a variety of educational opportunities. While the Topeka Zoo offers something for everyone, majority of their educational opportunities are for children. Some of the educational programs at the Topeka Zoo include; classes, camps, clubs, field trips, and overnight stays.

One of the most popular educational opportunities at the Topeka Zoo are school field trips. Schools have the option of going on a self-guided tour or following a specially trained tour guide throughout the Topeka Zoo. If schools choose to follow a tour guide, their tour guide will give them an in-depth and exclusive look into the animals and operations at the Zoo.

When there is a break in the school year, students still have the opportunity of visiting the Topeka Zoo and learning from one of their specially trained employees. Students have the opportunity of enrolling in one of the Zoo’s camps for spring break, summer break, and winter break. Each camp is designed with a different theme and curriculum for various age groups.

Another popular educational opportunity at the Topeka Zoo is their overnight program called Zoo Snoozes. Zoo Snoozes start at 7 pm and end at 8:30 am the following day. During Zoo Snoozes, participants engage in various games and activities, as well as watch movies and tour the Zoo at night. Groups have the opportunity of sleeping in the Security Benefit Pavilion or the Gary K. Clarke Education Center.

Back to: Ideas in Topeka Address: 635 SW Gage Blvd, Topeka, KS 66606, website, Phone: 785-368-9180 Photo: Macarena/Fotolia

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Things to Do in Topeka, KS: Topeka Zoo

  • History, Photo: Courtesy of alatielin -
  • Attractions, Photo: Courtesy of Macarena -
  • Cover Photo: Courtesy of frizzyfoto -