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Announcements & News

Welcome! Below you'll find the latest announcements and news, plus photos and videos about our exhibits, events, conservation projects and more.

Pardon or Progress: Trusses Now Installed

The Jungle project is going smoothly. This week the new roof trusses have gone up. Each section took around 10 minutes to get into place.

Enjoy this bird's-eye view (and sped up version) of the process!

Pardon our Progress: Update

Though progress is moving along quite nicely and the Jungle renovations remain on schedule, the recent “wild” Kansas weather
has set the plant life back a little further than we had anticipated.

The damage to the plants will cause the reopening of the Jungle to be pushed back until early 2015. This will give the Horticulture staff adequate time to rehabilitate those plants that can be saved and add new plants to fill in for those that were lost over the year. Memorial Day Weekend 2015 is the date we have in mind, but you just never know how these construction projects will run. Though the change in the timeline is not ideal, we feel that the change it will benefit both the animals and the guest experience.

The next time you’re at the Zoo, you might notice that there’s a little something going on at the Jungle! The Jungle is getting a facelift, or to be more exact, a roof “lift”! The roof that shelters the building is one that went on the building in the early 90’s. Though it has weathered many storms and still looks pretty good, it’s time for an upgrade.

The new roof will allow for better light transmission, thus giving the Jungle better growing potential for plants and a more authentic jungle feel. The old roof is made of semi-opaque panels that were designed to block out UV rays. The theory was that blocking out a large portion of the UV rays would make it more comfortable for all the inhabitants and guests. Now we know UV light is important to animals, and more “visible” light is important for the health and growth of plants.

Over the years, we have seen a reduction in breeding activity among the birds, which we believe is related to the reduction of UV light by the roof panels. We know that birds can see light on the UV spectrum, so they see things about each other that we cannot. For example, female and male tanagers appear to look the same to us. Because they are able to see UV sensitive areas in their plumage, they’re able to tell a lot more about eachother. With these “new” visual cues, we’re hopeful the mating behaviors in several species will increase.

Our Horticulture department is also expecting a tremendous change in the plant life of the Jungle. Light levels in the building are currently so low that even the low light plants are struggling to grow. With the new roof being nearly 100% transparent, Horticulture expects an explosion of growth and color! The department is hoping to add new species of flowering and fruit bearing plants that will thrive in the new lighting situation. While the building is closed, staff will also take the opportunity to amend the soil with compost, bring in new rocks, change the grade in some areas and fix a few areas of erosion.

While the Jungle is receiving a new roof; three new exhibits will be built. These new exhibits will highlight species from the Marianas Island and the birds we work with through the Mariana Avifauna Conservation Program (MAC): Guam rail, Micronesian kingfisher and forest birds of the Marianas. But don’t worry: the plan is to also add to the groups of birds that we already have! Look for some new faces and more of your favorites when the building reopens!

The animals that call the Jungle home will be moved to ASA bird barn behind the scenes for their safety. Keepers have been moving birds to their new homes since late January. This process has also allowed staff to do a census on the birds that are living in the Jungle. Keepers are also able to use this time to get an up close look at the health of the Jungle residents. The plan is to have all of the residents moved to their “summer homes” by the first of April. Check the website for Keeper updates on how the progress is going.

Like the animals we will be moving, some of the smaller plants will be moved to the greenhouses for the summer. During this time, they will receive a little extra care to make them healthier and happier when they return to the Jungle! Some of the bigger plants, however, will stay in the building during the construction process. Efforts will be made to protect the root zones of these plants and areas will be blocked off to keep them from being disturbed.

Though this construction project will likely keep the Jungle closed until fall, we are very excited about the possibilities that the new roof will bring to the exhibit and to your experience of the Jungle! Thank you for your patience while this work is in progress.

Learn more about the new roofing material>

Spring Cleaning

Along with spring comes spring cleaning. If you’re feeling like most people you’re probably ready for some spring temperatures and anxious to do some spring cleaning outside. A good place to start is in your backyard. However, keep in mind that you might have some new backyard guests. Sedgwick County Zoo supports Kansas Department of Wildlife & Parks in their efforts to promote a hands-off approach when it comes to wildlife and we want to provide you with the information you need sooner rather than later. It’s common to encounter young wild animals in your own backyard, especially in spring and summer.

Some people have an irresistible attraction to these wild youngsters, and want to take care of them. Every year, the lives of young wild animals are jeopardized by well-intentioned people who take them from the wild believing that the animals are abandoned or orphaned and will die if not given human care. However, the truth is rescuing wildlife from the wild often results in the death of the animal. KDWP gives us five good reasons why people should leave them in the wild: 1. THEY’RE NOT ABANDONED. Bird and mammal mothers will leave their young while they search for food during the day. This is the time when the young are most vulnerable to well-meaning humans. The adult animal is possibly watching and waiting for you to leave so it can return to care for its young. 2. IT’S ILLEGAL. Picking up young animals is against the law. Both the Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks and the Kansas Department of Health and Environment have regulations against such activity. Fines can be up to $1,000. State permits are required to legally possess most species of wild animals. For some species, federal permits are required and fines are more severe. 3. THEY MAY CARRY DISEASE. Even though they may look cute and fuzzy, wild animals carry a number of potential health threats. Rabies can be transmitted from a bite or saliva contacting an open wound. Ticks and fleas borne by some animals carry lyme and other diseases. Wild animals may also carry bacteria, roundworms, tapeworms, mites, and/or protozoans that can cause diseases in humans or their pets. 4. THEY’RE NOT PETS. Although young animals may be cute and cuddly, they are wild animals. Many well-meaning people have taken animals home, and then quickly learned that they’re not equipped to handle the animal as it matures. Many people have been injured by animals that initially seemed easily tamed. 5. GOOD INTENTIONS CAN BE DEADLY. Many animals taken into captivity soon die. Those that don’t are denied the opportunity to learn how to survive in their natural environment, so they seldom develop the skills necessary for them to survive when they are eventually returned to the wild. Their ability to find natural foods is hindered, and the natural wariness that is learned in the wild is impaired. Young wildlife raised in captivity often develop an attachment to humans. Upon their release to the wild, they may have little fear of people and return to make nuisances of themselves or put themselves in danger of traffic, or attack from domestic animals. Further, when released to the wild they may be thrust as unwelcome intruders into the home range of another member of their species. And you might relocate an animal with disease into a population that did not have the disease.

Here are some things you can do to protect wildlife in your backyard. Before you mow, especially tall grasses walk the area looking for turtles, toads, or rabbit nests. Turtles and toads can be gently moved along. However, a rabbit nest should be left alone. You can protect the nest and mark it to help you remember not to mow over it. Place a 2’ X 2’ or larger piece of flat wood over the nest, with the wood perched on bricks or other material so that the parent cottontail can get to the youngsters but curious dogs or cats can’t. Be sure to check all limbs before trimming trees. If you accidentally knock a nest from a tree or if it is knocked down by strong Kansas winds the best thing to do is put the bird carefully back into the nest, or shepherd it into some thick shrubbery or other protected space in your yard. The parents will continue to feed and care for the fledgling. Also, keep your dogs and cats away allowing the young bird’s parent to care for it. It is a myth that a parent won’t return to a young bird or nest if it has been touched by humans. To keep birds from flying into your recently cleaned windows you can hang a visual obstruction inside. At the Zoo you’ll see we use dark vinyl wildlife stickers to help the birds navigate around glass panels. If a bird hits your window don’t worry. Often, birds are just stunned from impact; generally, they recover after a few minutes and fly off. What if the parents don’t return and/or the animal dies? However unfortunate this may seem, death is an integral part of our natural world. It may even represent life to another wildlife species which can use that animal as sustenance or to feed their young. Many animals die before reaching adulthood. While it may seem disheartening to see a young animal die, it represents only one individual in an entire population which could not thrive if all young born survived. Now that your grass is mowed, your trees are trimmed, and your windows are clean you can sit back and enjoy the great outdoors. Sedgwick County Zoo wants to inspire you to observe the wildlife in your backyard, but remember a hands-off approach is always best. Please remember, the Sedgwick County Zoo does not currently carry permits for wildlife rehabilitation. However, if you find yourself in need of more information regarding how to deal with wildlife in your backyard or if you need to locate a licensed rehabilitator near you please visit:  http://www.kdwp.state.ks.us/news/Other-Services/Rehabilitation

Marketing / PR Manager:  
Sedgwick County Zoo
5555 Zoo Boulevard
Wichita, Kansas 67212
t: (316) 660-9453
t: (316) 266-8276
Hours of Operation
Summer Hours8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
(Beginning March 1)
Winter Hours10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
(Beginning November 1)
Open 364 Days a Year!*
*The Zoo will be closed one day only, September 12, 2015 to facilitate the preparation of the annual Zoo fundraiser, Zoobilee. For Zoobilee ticket information please call 266-8APE (8273).