We recommend an early start, so arrive close to opening time. Some animals love the morning hours and will make it worth getting up early. Wear comfortable shoes as you prepare to see seven continents’ worth of animals before dinner!
At the Starting Gate
Swans, river otters, and polar bears will greet you as soon as you enter the front gate. From there, begin with the largest land mammals -- a visit to Elephant Expedition.
The African Tram will drop you there, and after viewing these giant animals, you can get back on the tram or walk on to Africa.
Pack your water bottle because you’re headed out on safari! Veer right at the African Sky Safari toward the cheetahs, who will likely be keeping an eye on you from their hill.
Past the warthogs, make a right and cross the bridge into West Africa, home to gorillas, leopards, mangabeys, and more. West Africa is a simple loop so you can’t go wrong in either direction as long as you stay on the path.
Complete the circuit and cross back to East Africa, then continue on the path that circles the African plains. Make your way from hoofstock to birds, lions to ostriches.
Once you arrive at the rhinoceros habitat, watch for the right turn to take a side trip to see our chimpanzees. Be patient if they aren’t waiting for you at the viewing window – they’ll return from the treetops shortly. Return to the main pathway and you’ll be rewarded with giraffe and zebra sightings, crocodiles, hippos, and more.
Coming up shortly is Variety KC Exploration Play, a great place to rest before you finish your African safari with glimpses of painted dogs and baboons. Back at the African Marketplace, there are several options for rounding out your trip:
- A round-trip ride on the African Sky Safari, a ski lift ride gives you a birds-eye view of all you just witnessed. Where else will you get the chance to see rhinos from above?
- Satisfy your hunger at Rafiki Restaurant with a burger and loaded tator tots, or stop for an ice cream-topped funnel cake at Safari Snacks.
- Do some local shopping at Equator Gift Shop for souvenirs to bring back to friends in the States.
Lovely Lorikeets and Skilled Sea Lions
Jump on the African Tram for a return trip to World Gate. As you make your way up the hill towards the Endangered Species Carousel, check your watch and your map for the daily schedule. To your left, you have the opportunity to feed lorikeets and maybe get a photo of a bird on your head. To your right, California sea lions are ready to demonstrate their natural skills at Sea Lion Splash. Keep an eye on the clock and take advantage of both of these opportunities while you’re here.
It’s time to get tropical. The Tropics building is the original structure that the Kansas City Zoo & Aquarium called home when it opened in 1909. It was completely renovated for its 100th anniversary in 2009 and now houses an assortment of animals such as Asian small-clawed otters, white-cheeked gibbons, several species of monkeys, porcupines, and more.
On the north side of Tuxedo Grill (another good place for a quick bite) is one of the Zoo’s premier exhibits, Helzberg Penguin Plaza. You’ll find both cold-weather and warm-weather penguins -- five species in all. Go beyond the lobby and walk down the ramp, which will take you to underwater viewing where the penguins show off their speed! Moon jellies, tropical fish, and schooling fish round out the sea life found here.
Just past the penguin building is Stingray Bay, which opened in 2018. Stingray Bay is free with your Zoo admission so don’t miss the chance to touch the stingrays and maybe even a white-spotted bamboo shark.
A World of Discovery
Discovery Barn is next on the path and is home to animals such as ring-tailed lemurs, a two-toed sloth, macaws, amphibians, and more. Did you pack your quarters? Next to Discovery Barn, you can purchase goat food in the Three Billy Goats Gruff Yard. You’ll also have the chance to feed a dromedary camel!
As you continue on north, step inside the Snakes building to meet Louise, the Burmese python, and her friends. Then, across from Bluey’s restaurant, you’ll find a gate to enter Australia. You may just come nose-to-nose with a free-roaming kangaroo while you also see tree kangaroos, wallabies, dingoes, and more.
To the Tigers
As you exit Australia, follow the signs to Tiger Trail, where you’ll pass beautiful Sumatran tigers, adorable red pandas, and several inquisitive species of monkeys. The end of Tiger Trail will bring you to Orangutan Canopy, where indoor and outdoor viewing of these orange apes provides you great views of these intelligent animals.
As you follow the pathway back towards the front entrance, you’ll have the chance to check in on those magnificent polar bears again.
Finally, finish your day at an Amazing Animal Ambassadors Show in the main lobby auditorium. This is the perfect activity to relax and share favorite adventures with family and friends as your day winds down.
As you leave the Zoo, your passport should be stamped full and heavily weathered. We hope your heart is full and you’re already looking forward to another trip to the Kansas City Zoo & Aquarium – where it’s always a new adventure!