Of all the attractions in Garden City (and believe us when we tell you there are a lot), few are as well loved as the Lee Richardson Zoo. The zoo is owned and operated by the city of Garden City, which prides itself on keeping the zoo free to the walking public (just $10 for a driving pass).
The zoo provides 50 acres of beautiful Garden City land and has incredible enclosures built for the wide variety of animals in its possession (over 300 species at last count).
Whether you’re coming to see snakes or siamang, the zoo has plenty on offer. Below, you’ll find a list of some of our most popular animals, as well as an overview of the other services we provide for tourists and residents of this fine city.
If you read that first paragraph and thought, what the heck is a siamang, you’re not alone. The siamang is a type of Gibbon, a primate found in the forests of Thailand, Malaysia, and Indonesia.
Famed for their calls, which can be heard for around 2 miles in any direction, siamangs are social creatures who live in groups.
This endangered animal’s calls aren’t just communicative, they are also a show of strength, as quieter groups will often capitulate territory to larger ones.
Find ours in the Wild Asia section of the zoo, and if you’re there around dawn or dusk, you might just hear its famous call.
One of the rarest big cats in the world, the snow leopard is truly special to see. Most live in the mountain ranges of central Asia and there are less than 10,000 left in the wild.
Look, we’re supposed to be objective. We get that. Every animal is great in its own right and we’re lucky that we have them in our lives.
BUT HAVE YOU EVER SEEN ANYTHING AS CUTE AS A RED PANDA?!?!?! No. You haven’t. I mean, this guy is adorable.
Red Panda is actually a bit of a misnomer, since it isn’t all that closely related to the giant panda. It’s actually been classified in the raccoon family before, and the bear family, but scientists have recently been leaning more toward the red panda being its own classification.
Did we mention that we find it cute? Find it in Wild Asia.
Heading in a slightly different direction that the red panda (don’t you just want to squeeze its little cheeks?), let’s move on to the turkey vulture.
While this big boy might seem a bit scary, turkey vultures actually perform a vital natural service. They help to break down animals that die and redistribute the nutrients from their bodies.
Turkey vultures have an incredible sense of smell, which is very unique for birds!
Find ours in the South American Pampas section of the zoo.
Did you know flamingos are not actually born pink? It’s true! They are actually a kind of grayish color, and only turn pink based on their diet of brine shrimp and blue-green algae.
The flamingo is a zoo favorite and even just watching them standing in the water is a sight to behold.
Chilean Rose Haired Tarantula
While tarantulas are one of several species that induces horror (we’ve all seen Home Alone), they aren’t actually poisonous. Instead tarantulas, such as the Chilean Rose Haired, use their hairs as a defense mechanism.
Their bodies are covered with microscopic barbs which can cause irritation to the skin and eyes of predators.
We would be remiss if we didn’t give some space to the zoo’s most popular resident. The African lion is the pride (no pun intended) of the Lee Richardson zoo, and we are so proud to be able to present this beautiful animal.
Lions are some of the only social cats in the world, living in family groups with a strong, hierarchical structure.
The African Lions are located near the drive-in entrance in our beautiful African Plains enclosure.
While most visitors go to the Lee Richardson zoo to see the animals, there are many animal adjacent reasons to visit as well (I mean, obviously you’re going to visit the red panda).
The zoo offers many events catered toward teaching kids and adults to appreciate animals and live as stewards to the environment. Check the zoos website and you’ll find plenty of offerings on the event section.
In addition, the zoo holds special events for holidays which have included concerts, performances and community art projects.
Many educators are in contact with the zoo to help build personalized educational opportunities for visitors and locals. More information can be found on the zoo’s website.
As a city funded operation, zoo officials strive to keep the zoo free and the cost of a driving permit low. To do this, the zoo encourages people to volunteer. Volunteering is a great way to learn more about the zoo, its animals and operation, and connect with visitors.
Many volunteers do so to spend more time closer to the animals, but often find the most enriching part of the experience is the time they spend with people.
The Pride of Garden City
In Garden City, we love our zoo, and we would encourage any visitor to take some time to explore the beautiful place we’ve built here, which the locals love and appreciate so much. You’ll definitely leave here smarter than when you came, and a day at the Lee Richardson Zoo is without a doubt a day well spent!