The North America exhibit opened in May of 1993, showcasing native North American species and educating visitors about animals that are part of their national heritage. Otters, bears, bison and other animals once roamed the Kansas prairie and its fringes, but have been displaced by human encroachment.
Big Bear Watering Hole marks the entrance to the North America exhibit. It is here that you can relax by the cool waterfall or pause long enough to take a photo of your family by the bear family sculpture to mark the start of your adventure through North America. Behind Big Bear Watering Hole is the boat dock. You can take a boat tour from North America to Africa and back for a different view of the Zoo. You'll pass under The Downing Gorilla Forest bridge, float through Nganda Village and past three lemur islands before you make the turn near Pride of the Plains, returning once again to North America.
Continuing down the path you come upon the grizzly bear pool. The grizzly bears can often be seen splashing or soaking in the pool on warm afternoons. Walking further down the path you'll see black bears and white-tailed deer. Stop for a moment to watch the North American river otters. What are they up to? Possibly swimming, playing, maybe taking a nap.
Further down the road you'll see a small building, home to native amphibians and reptiles. Heading toward the boardwalk you'll see elk and the magnificent bald eagle. Taking the boardwalk up and over the boat canal gives you a new perspective of the Zoo. Take your time, feed the water fowl and fish.
Next on the trail is the Mexican wolf. In 1997, an exhibited pair of Mexican wolves gave birth to a litter of eight pups, one of the largest and healthiest litters ever born in a zoo. One of those pups has been released into the wild in the southwest and formed his own pack, hopefully helping to secure the future for this native North American species. Mexican wolves are one of the rarest animals in our Zoo and they are rare in the wild. The last wild one was seen in 1980. These wolves are rare gems the Zoo is fortunate to be able to share with our guests.
Up ahead you'll learn more about bison and prairie dogs which all make Kansas home on the range. Catch a glimpse of a cougar. Enjoy your walk through our native North America exhibit. Watching these animals roam we are made aware of their significance by realizing how rare such glimpses are.