FROM ZOO TO YOU

By Kristi Newland

The weather is warming up. Flowers and trees are blooming. It’s a good time to enjoy the great outdoors and Lee Richardson Zoo! The zoo has something for everyone.

Watch the baby rhino and other animal favorites. Animal species from around the world reside at Lee Richardson Zoo. There are carnivores, raptors, waterfowl, hooved animals, tall ones, short ones, tan ones, spotted ones, noisy ones, and quiet ones. Many of the species face challenges in the wild that threaten their continued survival. It is a unique opportunity to connect with animals such as the critically endangered black rhino, the lemurs of Primate Forest, or a number of other species with which we share the planet.

You can visit the zoo by yourself, with your friends, or your family. The zoo provides a family-friendly environment and is a great place to enjoy alone time or family time. Family time outside is a great way to improve family bonds. Whether it is walking through the zoo with your family and stopping along the way to watch all the animals or enjoying a picnic on the west side of the zoo, family time is fun time at the zoo! There are two picnic shelters, a number of picnic tables and small grills in a wide-open space that is easily accessed by walking paths or the zoo road.

Visiting the zoo is a good way to reduce stress and become more focused. Time outdoors has been proven to reduce stress in adults. Unstructured play outside in nature has also been proven to help children become more self-reliant, more focused, more creative, and improves their problem-solving skills.

It is a great opportunity to get your steps in while enjoying a pleasant outdoor environment. The zoo is free to pedestrians and has over two miles of shady, landscaped walking paths as well as the walking trail surrounding the zoo campus. There is a lot to see while you travel along the pathways, so there is no need to worry about getting bored along the way. Benches can be found along the trails if you need to take a break during your trek.

There are multiple transportation options available if you would rather not walk. The popular Safari Cycles are back! These can be rented at the Safari Shoppe and come in a variety of sizes. If pedaling through the zoo is not your thing, driving your own vehicle is also an option. There is a $10 per day fee for driving through unless you have a Friends of Lee Richardson Zoo Membership; with a membership driving through is free. Memberships can be purchased at the zoo (Safari Shoppe, Fourth Street gatehouse, Finnup Center for Conservation Education) or online at folrz.com. They make great gifts too.

The zoo offers engaging learning experiences. Zoo Edventures Summer Camp will be taking place in June and July. Camp registration is now open for those going into 1st grade through 6th grade. Each camp session is for one week, Monday through Friday, from 8 a.m. to noon. There are two week-long sessions for each age group during the summer. Registration is $85 (or $75 for FOLRZ members), and space is limited. For more information, visit the zoo’s website or Facebook page, drop by the Finnup Center for Conservation Education, email zoo.education@gardencityks.us or call us at 620-276-1250.

Looking ahead, mark your calendar for FOLRZ’s Jungle Run Auto show and the Finney County Historical Museum’s Flea Market Festival on July 10. For updates on zoo events, visit our website (www.leerichardsonzoo.org) or our Facebook page. You can also enjoy zoo videos on our YouTube channel.

Kristi Newland is the director of Lee Richardson Zoo.