Kansas City’s Wildest Animal Encounters
This summer, make memories up close and personal with animals at these local attractions:
Sea Turtle Rescue Center at Sea Life
Sea Life Kansas City recently opened the brand new Sea Turtle Rescue Center. Visitors get face to flipper with rescued green sea turtles! The Sea Turtle Rescue Center provides a home to rescued sea turtles that are no longer able to survive in the wild. This center enables guests to meet sea turtles up close and learn about the threats wild turtles encounter, teaching people how to make a positive difference. VisitSeaLife.com/kansas-city/discover/sea-turtle-rescue-center
Bottle-Feed Baby Goats at Deanna Rose Children’s Farmstead
For Kansas City kids, the Deanna Rose Children’s Farmstead is a fabulous hands-on encounter with more than 250 farm animals and birds. Kids love bottle-feeding baby goats (for a nominal fee), riding ponies or a horse-drawn wagon, and watching as cows are milked. The interactive petting zoo is a favorite place for little ones to learn about animals and experience them up close and personal. Climbing through tunnels in the prairie dog village, feeding critters in the petting zoo and learning from the volunteers give kids a great early education on farm animals. OPKansas.org/things-to-see-and-do/deanna-rose-childrens-farmstead
Feed Fish at the Lake
Young children love to feed fish and watch the feeding frenzy when they toss the treats into the water. You can feed fish at Longview Lake Marina (9898 Longview Rd., Kansas City, MO) in the summer. The marina shop sells bags of fish food from $.50 to $1.50 per bag. (They ask that you not bring stale bread and such from home as it is not safe for waterfowl.) Dress your little one in a life jacket for safety on the dock and remember to follow the posted rules about where you may and may not feed fish and whether fishing is permitted. After feeding the fish, enjoy a nice walk or bike ride on the nearby trails or a picnic at the shelter. Longview Lake is a beautiful place for summer fun.
Go Behind the Scenes at the Kansas City Zoo
We love, love, love visiting the Kansas City Zoo! Days of visiting a bunch of snoozing animals within small cages with bars are a thing of the past. Now, zoo animals enjoy beautiful spacious habitats, and visitors learn more and appreciate the animals more than ever before.
Keeper for a Day
Playing with cute, cuddly, sometimes wild animals is one of those dream jobs for kids on par with astronaut, firefighter and ballerina. Yet few know what zookeeping actually entails. We recently participated in the Kansas City Zoo’s Keeper for a Day program (mini program for ages 7-12, junior program for ages 13-17 and adult program for 18+), and it was truly an outstanding educational experience.
Each Keeper for a Day program features a variety of activities, including helping prepare food for animals, cleaning habitats, creating enrichment for animals and behind-the-scenes experiences. The activities for the program vary from day to day, so you may choose to attend more than one program for more experiences.
The day was full of hands-on activities. Throughout the day, the girls were given the chance to make enrichment toys for the parrots, as well as learn details about several of the animals. The highlight of the day was going behind the scenes with the penguins and right into the exhibit where they observed the keepers feeding the Humboldt penguins and helped document what they ate. They made meals for gorillas by measuring the fruits, veggies and starches precisely.
After a human lunch break, they headed to Stingray Bay to feed those creatures. Next, they journeyed to the snake house to watch as the slithery reptiles were fed, and finally headed back to the learning department where they prepared for their public presentation of the bearded dragon and Madagascar hissing cockroaches.
The Keeper for a Day program is one of the best educational programs at the Kansas City Zoo. It truly offers one-of-a-kind experiences that enhance your appreciation for the animals, the zookeepers and the zoo.
The Kansas City Zoo also offers a variety of themed overnights where visitors may stay as families or groups in the Polar Bear Passage, Helzberg Penguin Plaza, Stingray Bay or outdoors in Australia or Africa. The overnights include animal encounters, hands-on educational activities and sometimes even a night hike to see nocturnal animals or visit behind-the-scenes sites like the commissary. Our family has enjoyed both the penguin and polar bear overnights, which have, without a doubt, made some of our favorite family memories.
Feeding Camels, Goats, Stingrays and Lorikeets
Kansas City Zoo guests love interactive exhibits. This summer, the zoo introduces the brand new camel feeding deck. The new deck will be located on the northwest side of the camel yard, so visitors will be able to watch the zoo’s dromedaries from the Discovery Zone and Australia. Visitors may purchase food from machines and drop the food pellets into tubes that transport it straight to the camels.
You also may feed rainbow lorikeets in their aviary near the carousel. And the Billy Goats Gruff Yard near the Discovery Barn is a fun-filled habitat where children enjoy feeding goats and watching them trot overhead on their special bridge.
For an aquatic encounter, visitors love touching stingrays at Stingray Bay. At 10:00 and 1:00, you may feed the stingrays for $1 (while supplies last).
NEW! Summer 2019: Behind the Scenes Encounters
In addition to the popular penguin encounters, where visitors experience the Helzberg Penguin Plaza Exhibit with penguins waddling all around as they learn about cold weather penguins and have an “up close and personal” encounter with some of these magnificent birds, the Kansas City Zoo is expanding their behind-the-scenes offerings! These new special experiences offer additional “up close and personal” animal encounters and exclusive behind-the-scenes tours.
Kristina Light’s daughter Brielle, a lifelong bear lover, is all the more convinced she wants to be a zookeeper when she grows up after an unforgettable experience as Keeper for a Day.