We all know we are going to lose an hour of sleep and gain an hour of daylight when we set our clocks forward each spring. I, for one, miss my beloved hour of sleep but do like grilling a hamburger outdoors in the sunlight with the extra hour of daylight.
Zoo guests and animals experience many changes when spring arrives and the time changes.
Starting April 1, our extended hours began for 2019. From now until Labor Day, we will be open to pedestrians from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. It is still free to walk through the zoo, and you can take in all the wonderful animals for a couple of extra hours a day. The Safari Shoppe is also open longer now that spring is here. The Safari Shoppe hours are 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.. Get your root beer float, hot dog, and Red Panda Riot Dippin Dots before you head out for a day at the zoo. You can also rent a Safari Cycle to pedal through the zoo if you don’t want to walk or drive through.
If you do decide to drive or take a Safari Cycle through the zoo, please know that the hours for our Fourth Street gate also changed as of April 1. The drive-through hours from now until Labor Day are 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. We close the drive-through an hour early to make sure all cars have a chance to see the zoo before we close for the evening.
April also begins our season for special events and animal awareness days at the zoo. Keep your eyes open for our animal awareness events and special events by checking out our website, leerichardsonzoo.org, by finding us on Facebook, or you can call the administrative office at (620)-276-1250. In the coming season, we will celebrate Earth Day, Mother’s Day, World Rhino Day, Red Panda Day, and many others. The Finney County Museum will have its annual flea market at the same time the Friends of Lee Richardson Zoo has the Jungle Run car show. There will be an event for everyone at Lee Richardson Zoo in 2019, and we look forward to seeing all our friends.
And if you do not like the crowds at the events, there is still plenty of time to visit the zoo and take in the serenity that the oasis of southwestern Kansas has to offer. You can listen for the multitude of bird calls and see if you can tell which is which. You can follow the bonding calls of the Siamangs over to their habitat and watch them brachiate, quickly swinging from branch to branch, while calling out with their very powerful vocalizations.
As for the animals with all the time changes and events, they are enjoying their normal morning and evening routines, but you have the chance to see them relaxing in the cooler evening temperatures. Many of our animals, the lions are a great example, like the cooler morning and evening temperatures and take those chances to frolic and play. Our rhinos take the opportunity to roll around in massive mud wallows we make sure they have; this is something they would do in the wild and something we make sure they regularly have access to for their optimal welfare. Our addax, including the two new addax babies this season, really enjoy the warmer weather and spend most of their day roaming their habitat eating grass and laying in the sun.
No matter what your favorite activity is at the zoo, we have you taken care of with extended hours, lots of events, and amazing animals. We look forward to seeing everyone from southwest Kansas at the zoo this upcoming season.
Max Lakes is the curator of conservation education at Lee Richardson Zoo.