Lee Richardson Zoo sits on 50 beautiful acres, and is truly the jewel of Garden City. Here you can enjoy lush landscapes, lovely walking and driving paths, playgrounds, picnic areas, and of course, hundreds of exotic and local species of animals. Whether you’re touring Garden City with family, friends, or solo, the zoo is a wonderful place to spend the day.
Open year-round and free to pedestrians, visitors are able to experience giraffes, lions, bears, primates, birds, and many more animals, native and exotic, at a gorgeous facility accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums.
The Lee Richardson Zoo’s mission is to inspire the conservation of wildlife and wild places. This mission is actively achieved by their support of conservation projects both in the wild and on grounds, as well as cooperative management with other AZA facilities of the world’s most rare and endangered species.
Additionally, the Zoo’s Education Division provides a variety of on and off-site programs which include distance learning, zoo mobiles, camps, classroom presentations, and special events to help inspire and share a passion for wildlife.
- The zoo is open 7 days a week
- Summer – 8 AM to 7 PM
- Winter – 8 AM to 5 PM
- Admission is free to walk through
- $10 vehicle day pass to drive through
Please visit the Zoo’s website for the latest information and announcements.
Upon entering this 50-acre zoo in Garden City, KS it’s immediately clear something is different. Many visitors are captivated by just how beautifully landscaped the grounds are. Us locals tend to take it for granted (this is ‘Garden’ City after all), but many don’t realize Lee Richarson Zoo is actually located inside of the much larger Finnup Park – a wonder all on its own.
As a result, you’ll feel closer to nature than the forgettable concrete and bars motif that is so common at many metropolitan zoos, and you and the kiddos will find plenty of shade to stop and enjoy the views.
Did we mention the entire grounds are completely free to walk? Try finding that at your big-city zoo!
The 110 acre Finnup Park offers many of its own amenities for travelers such as six picnic shelters with electricity (can accommodate up to 100 people), nine barbecue grills, three unique playground areas for the kiddos, basketball courts, horseshoe pits, and public restroom facilities.
If you’re looking for a great place to cool off after a visit to the zoo or park, the largest hand-dug outdoor swimming pool in the world is located right next door!
At many zoos, you pay a big fee and wade through crowds, only to find an hour into your visit the kids are already fussy, you’re exhausted, and everyone is ready to pack up the minivan. If we’re ringing any bells, we think you’ll find Lee Richardson Zoo a refreshing experience. You won’t find the crowds of a traditional zoo, and you’ll never miss out on a front-row viewing opportunity.
In fact, the zoo prides itself on individual attention and getting visitors up close and personal with the animals through a variety of learning experiences and exhibits. Each visit can be personalized and tailored to your group with guided walking tours and more. You can even adopt an animal.
Summer Keeper Chats are also available where your group can learn about the day to day role a zookeeper plays in caring for the zoo’s many different animals. You can watch as care staff work with one of the cougars at Cat Canyon, get up close to owls, snakes, hedgehogs, at Nature Play Space, learn about otters at Kansas Waters, and find out what it takes to care for amazing trumpeter swans. You can even arrange to feed one of the animals such as giraffes or rhinos on weekends.
Make sure to also make reservations for your group at The Finnup Center for Conservation Education. The Finnup Center has a variety of animals, hands-on interactive tools, and free educational programs on many topics. Reservations can be made two weeks in advance by calling the zoo education department (620-276-1250).
Pro Parenting Tip
Plan your next birthday party in Garden City here! You get your own indoor party space, an educational program with live animals, and they’ll even decorate and clean up for a small fee. The kids will love it, the other parents will wonder how you got VIP access, and it all goes to a great cause.
You may have seen the full-size steam-powered locomotive at Lee Richardson Zoo (it’s difficult to miss ‘Old Two Bits‘), but did you know there’s also a mini variant that traverses the zoo grounds offering your family a brand new way to see the zoo?
Have you experienced the new interactive river mining sluice, where visitors can sift through a stream to discover gemstones, fossils, and other treasures?
Have you seen the conservation carousel in Cat Canyon?
One of the best parts of visiting Lee Richardson Zoo is there is always something new to see or experience awaiting you. The Zoo is always striving to improve, grow, and offer new ways for the public to connect and care for animals. This means no matter how many times you have visited this public favorite, now is a great time to add Lee Richardson Zoo to your next family outing or trip.
New exhibits and experiences like these don’t just happen on their own. It takes the efforts of a ton of volunteers, staff, public support, and financial contributions from generous donors just like you. To learn how you can get involved, please visit the Friends of Lee Richardson Zoo website.
An amazing new primate and flamingo exhibit will open very soon, providing guests the opportunity to see lemurs, spider monkeys and more all year long. The exhibit features both indoor and outdoor habitats, private dens, and staff areas. The new facilities will offer greater care opportunities for zookeepers and new ways for visitors to get up and close with the animals.
Did you know?
Lemurs belong to a group called prosimian primates – meaning they are neither monkeys nor apes! They are widely considered the most endangered group of animals on the planet and only found in one small area of the Earth.