The last place I lived when I was a college student at Kansas State University in Manhattan, Kansas (back in a year that started with a 1) was near the Sunset Zoo. My long, mind-clearing walks would often take me through the zoo which was not much more than some native birds and a bobcat or two. Nearly all animals had injuries or other challenges that made it difficult for them to fend for themselves in the wild, so they benefited from the security and safety of the Sunset Zoo. When I had a chance to visit the Sunset Zoo this past fall for the first time in decades, I was amazed at how it had blossomed!
It is a small, but nicely done zoo. The animals all seem well cared for, and it probably doesn’t hurt that the K-State College of Veterinary Medicine is just down the road. Admission is currently $5.00 for adults and $3.00 for children between the ages of 3 and 12. There is no fee for children younger than three, and there may be a discount if you are a friend of a reciprocal zoo. Allow at least an hour for your visit.
Some of My Favorite Things:
- Get close to most animals. From the flamingos to the emus, from the wallabies to the peccaries, visitors are able to get very close to many of the animals. Many of the enclosures have what I call “clear access” to the animals meaning that they have been designed with walls, trenches, and other approaches to reduce the amount of caging or glass. Enclosures that do use glass walls, like the chimpanzees, or traditional cages, like the hawk, are easy to shoot through with a camera. Peacocks roam around the zoo, and you can usually catch one with his gorgeous tail feathers on full display.
- New cheetahs. After losing Adolpho and Jalani in 2014, the Sunset Zoo welcomed sisters Azizi and Dahlila last summer.
- Sparkling clean restrooms. Understandably, most zoo restrooms are a bit, um, rustic. The main restrooms at the Sunset Zoo, just inside the Education Center across from the entrance gate, have always been spotlessly clean when I’ve visited.
- Young chimp is beyond adorable. Three-year-old chimpanzee youth, Nkurukoto, is as much fun to watch as about any toddler you’ll encounter. Curious, adorable, and funny, he certainly kept my attention for quite some time!
A Bit Disappointing:
- Original cages are probably due to be upgraded. A small swath of cages that I remember from my college days, the ones that house animals like the raccoon and bobcat, should probably be upgraded to make them on par with the newer exhibits.
- Cheetahs are still getting settled. While it’s understandable that they may be stressed and may need some time to settle in, the cheetahs have only been visible through a fine black mesh so far because they’ve been attacking the glass that separates them from the visitors.
What about you? Have you visited the Sunset Zoo? Share your thoughts in the comments below!
A few tips for your visit:
- If you have a zoo membership, like the Kansas City Zoo’s Friends of the Zoo program, be sure to ask about any discounts at the ticket office.
- The zoo keepers start putting the animals away around 4:30, so be sure to arrive by at least 3:30 to thoroughly enjoy your visit.
Don’t just take my word for it, here’s what a few other bloggers had to say about the Sunset Zoo in Manhattan, Kansas.