Encountering unique animals at Wichita’s Sedgwick County Zoo


Wichita’s Sedgwick County Zoo offered us a chance to see some animals we don’t normally see at the Omaha zoo. We appreciate the opportunity to see new animals.

The zoo, which opened in 1971, has about 3,000 animals on display. It can take a few hours to tour the zoo.

Our visit started with a hands-on encounter of a lizard at the Cargill Learning Center. Our lizard enjoyed crawling through the zoo keeper’s hair.

Catch a Keeper gets you up close to the animals

The zoo’s animal exhibits are spread out by continent, with a few exceptions. One of them is the Children’s Farm area. Since Lisa calls me a big kid, we decided to start our zoo adventure here.

Karakul sheep hail from Central Asia. They were common in Uzbekistan as far back as 1400 BC. They have long hair. This was a new experience for us.

Karakul sheep at Sedgewick County Zoo in Wichita, KS

Lisa met some goats that took a liking to her. They actually didn’t expect food from us. She petted a couple of them.

Petting the goats at the Sedgwick County Zoo in Wichita, KS

I got a kick out of a couple of sheep, who seemed interested in what was going on during our visit, but not quite brave enough to move closer to us.

Sheep checking out the visitors at Sedgwick County Zoo

We saw a breed of cattle we’d never encountered before. The Highland cow has long horns and a long fur coat. They come from the Scottish highlands. They were common in North America’s northern regions. Apparently, they were known for leaner meat than other cattle.

Highland Cow at Sedgwick County Zoo in Wichita, KS

The Poitou donkey originated in the Poitou region of France. The donkeys were raised to create stronger donkeys. Following World War II, they almost became extinct, with their numbers dropping to 44. Wichita is home to the first Poitou donkey born in an American zoo.

Poitou Donkeys at Sedgwick County Zoo in Wichita, KS

The farm has a couple of horses – one of which as an American Cream Draft Horse. The Cream is the only Draft horse breed to originate in the United States, with the first known cream horse bred in Iowa in the early 1900s.

American Cream Draft Horse

The Children’s farm is also home to camels, more goats and Asian chickens.

The Cessna Penguin Cove is home to several penguins. The outdoor attraction had penguins swimming and brown pelicans grooming themselves.

Cessna Penguin Cove at Sedgwick County Zoo

The amphibian and reptile exhibit is home to tree giant tortoises. I’m not sure if they were intrigued or irritated by our visit, but they didn’t have welcoming looks on their faces.

Tree Giant Tortoises at Sedgwick County Zoo

The green tree python spends its entire life in a tree. It never comes close to the ground. The color allows the python camouflage against predator and prey.

Green Tree Python

Once were done with the special exhibits, we moved to the continents.

North America gave us a view of a couple of brown (Grizzly) bears. One was watching us as we approached, but he was apparently camera shy, and we struggled to get a good view of him.

Grizzly Bear at Sedgwick County Zoo

I have no idea why, but I can spend hours watching prairie dogs do their thing. They scurry about their village, digging and eating, digging and eating. I love their warning calls. One stands watch and calls out to the others. They scurry into their holes and then the watcher vanishes. They are fun little rodents to watch.

Prairie Dogs

Three American buffalo (bison) were enjoying the cool overcast day as we checked them out. Apparently, the last bison in Kansas was killed in 1879. In 1889, there were about 1,000 bison left in the United States. Currently, an estimated 500,000 bison are in the US.

American Buffalo

Our last stop in North America could have been our last, if the cougar had his way. He seemed to be eyeballing us as we walked by.


A short walk through the Asian exhibit gave us a view of several different types of ducks and geese.

Ducks and geese

Lisa is a large cat fan. If she could decorate the house in all Tiger, she would. So, we had to check out the tigers.

Tigers at the Sedgwick County Zoo

Did you know that – other than for mating – tigers are solitary creatures? I didn’t. I guess I always thought they lived in prides, like lions.

We also have visual proof that red pandas exist (our daughter Mallory doubted this for a long time as she searched zoos high and low for them). Ours was cuddled up inside a hollowed out log.

Red Panda at Sedgwick County Zoo

On our way to the African exhibits, we stopped by the gorilla attraction. They were pretty kicked back, so we didn’t get a good view of them. They have a nice habitat, though. I liked the layout. The viewing area had a safari feel to it. A large tent room gives visitors an area to see them when the gorillas are outdoors.

A lion was watching over his kingdom. He let out a couple of roars as we walked nearby.

Lion at Sedgwick County Zoo

Sedgwick County Zoo is in the middle stages of creating a new elephant exhibit. The Zembezi River Valley exhibit is due to open in 2016.

New Elephant exhibit at the Sedgwick County Zoo

African painted dogs live in packs with up to 40 members. They are carnivorous. Each dog’s hair design differs.

African Painted Dogs at Sedgwick County Zoo

In South America, we saw the weirdest-looking animal. The Maned Wolf looks like an American red fox on steroids. It’s commonly found in the southern area of the continent.

Maned Wolf at Sedgwick County Zoo

We found a lot of animals were off display. But, that was understandable with the cooler weather. I thought we were fortunate to see the ones we did. The indoor jungle is closed for renovation. It reopens Memorial Day weekend 2015.

The zoo offers an opportunity to get fairly close to the animals, which can result in a great experience. We recommend checking out the Sedgwick County Zoo when in Wichita.

For more information on Sedgwick County zoo, please visit its website at www.scz.org.

Disclaimer: Thanks to the Wichita Visitors Bureau for the complimentary tickets to the zoo. However, all opinions and views are ours.