Regardless of age, most people love or appreciate animals. The Kansas City Zoo has long been a great local option for fans to go and view unique animals. In fact, Nikita the charismatic polar bear has long been the highlight for many a zoo patron. However, Nikita’s status as the zoo’s most popular attraction may be threatened by the new Helzberg Penguin Plaza which opened its doors on Friday, October 25th.
The 19,000 square foot Helzberg Penguin Plaza includes a 100,000 gallon cold-water tank built specifically for cold-water penguins along with a 25,000 gallon warm-water tank for warm-water penguins. The cold-water tank, also known as the Penguin Ice Paradise, contains thirty penguins consisting of the King, Gentoo, and Rockhopper species. The water temperatures in the Penguin Ice Paradise are kept at 45 degrees. The tank spans three levels to allow visitors to view the penguins from above water and two separate views underneath the water level. Young guests will also enjoy the motion-based activity that allows them to attempt to catch a computer-generated penguin using their hands or feet. The warm-water tank, known as Penguin Coast, contains Humboldt penguins which can thrive indoors or out. During the day, the tank is opened to allow the Humboldt Penguins to remain inside or travel outside in an enclosed area as they so desire. Other areas of interest inside the Helzberg Penguin Plaza include a circular tank containing a school of fish and a tank containing a reef display containing fish not unlike those seen in the film, “Finding Nemo.”
The Kansas City Zoo contains more than the aforementioned penguins and Nikita. The Kansas City Zoo was voted as one of the top zoos in America circa 2008. The African exhibit was even ranked number one in the nation for “African Animals and Exhibits” due primarily to the extremely diverse population of animals contained within. Also of note is that the Zoo was ranked in the top ten for “Austrailian Animals and Exhibits” and “Pachyderms.” Ape expert Jane Goodall has stated that the Kansas City Zoo sports “one of the finest chimpanzee displays in North America.”
The Kansas City Zoo is open on weekdays from 9:30 am until 4:00 pm and on weekends from 9:30 am to 5:00 pm. Several different pricing models exist. Resident of Jackson or Clay counties, which support the Zoo with a sales tax measure, can enter for $5 for adults, $4.50 for seniors, and $4 for children ages 3 to 11. Regular pricing is $11.50 for adults, $10.50 for seniors, and $8.50 for children. Children 2 and under are always free. The Kansas City Zoo is located at 6800 Zoo Drive at Swope Park in Kansas City, MO. For further information, visit www.kansascityzoo.org or call the Zoo at 816-513-5800.