Sedgwick County Zoo

Update: According to the Sedgwick County Zoo, it has been verified that a zoo guest had physical contact with the orangutan. The zoo guest stated that she "never felt that she was in danger or in any way threatened by the orangutan." According to a press release, the woman has asked to remain anonymous. The zoo says it will respect that request.

The investigation into the circumstances of the escape is ongoing.

Deborah Shaar / KMUW

The Sedgwick County Zoo is losing its longtime director. 

Executive Director Mark Reed came to the zoo in Wichita in 1979 for what was supposed to be a short stint as assistant director before moving on to another zoo.

Instead, he stayed 11 years and then was promoted to director, and he never left.

When he retires on Dec. 31, Reed will have spent 37 years at the zoo.

"I look at all zoos as a reflection of the community, and this community loves the zoo," Reed says. "It’s been a great time here doing something for this community."

Courtesy Sedgwick County Zoo

The Sedgwick County Zoo's newborn gorilla made her public debut this week.

The unnamed 2-week-old female and her mother, Barika, were in the Downing Gorilla Forest dayroom for the first time Wednesday, the zoo announced. The baby is the first gorilla born at the zoo, and the first for parents Barika, 23, and Matt, 15.

Other family members met the baby for the first time.

"Matt continues to be attentive and protective, while Kigali is curious and Kivu is intrigued by the new little one," the zoo wrote in a press release.

Sedgwick County Proposes New Funding Model For Zoo

Aug 16, 2016
Travel KS / Flickr

The Sedgwick County Commission is proposing a plan to bring more stability, and less politics, into annual funding talks with the zoo.


The commission has been in negotiations with the Sedgwick County Zoological Society over future funding and operating agreements for months. Commission Chairman Jim Howell says a new plan is meant to clear up much of the contention. 

Courtesy Sedgwick County Zoo

The Sedgwick County Zoo has had its first gorilla birth.

A lowland gorilla was born late last Wednesday to parents Barika, 23, and Matt, 15, the zoo announced Monday. The gender of the baby is unknown at this time.

The zoo says the baby has been seen nursing and appears to be clinging well. Barika and the baby will stay behind the scenes until zoo staff is confident the baby is strong and healthy enough for its public debut.

Deborah Shaar / KMUW/File photo

Halfway through its fiscal year, attendance at the Sedgwick County zoo is up 18 percent from 2015 and up 31 percent from 2014, according to a new financial report presented to the County Commission.


A brand new elephant attraction opened back in May, drawing large crowds to see longtime resident Stephanie and the zoo's six new elephants. The Elephants of the Zambezi River Valley features a five-acre outdoor display, as well as an indoor facility with a 550,000 gallon elephant pool.

Deborah Shaar / KMUW/File photo

The new elephant exhibit at the Sedgwick County Zoo in Wichita is officially open.

The state-of-the-art facility is getting a lot of attention, and not just for the impressive grounds. As KMUW’s Deborah Shaar tells us, visitors are excited to see the six new elephants from Africa.

Nadya Faulx / KMUW

It sounds like the plot of the movie “Operation Dumbo Drop”: Seventeen elephants flying on a massive airplane from Swaziland in southern Africa to zoos across the U.S. But it is real, and it's here.

The elephants landed at Wichita’s Dwight D. Eisenhower National Airport this afternoon. A crowd of onlookers gathered at the Sedgwick County Zoo as its six new residents arrived in giant crates on two flatbed trucks.

Nadya Faulx / KMUW

Updated Thursday, March 10, at 5:05 p.m.: 

A representative from the Sedgwick County Zoo says their new elephants are "en route" from Swaziland to the U.S.

The 17 elephants are headed to three zoos in the U.S., including the Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium in Omaha, Neb., and the Dallas Zoo.

Deborah Shaar

The Sedgwick County Zoo is moving forward with a plan to import six elephants from Africa.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service approved the zoo’s permit application on Friday.

The Sedgwick County Zoo is partnering with zoos in Dallas and Omaha in an effort to save 18 elephants from death in Swaziland, Africa.

The country is in a severe drought and faces an overpopulation of elephants. The animals are also taking a toll on landscape needed for endangered rhinos.