Lee Richardson Zoo stands as one of the longest-operating zoos in the state of Kansas. Our story starts in 1919 when George Finnup donated 105 acres of land for a park in memory of his father, Frederick Finnup. The Zoo was then established in 1927 by the local chapter Izaak Walton League (a national organization interested in the preservation of wildlife) with two skunks brought in by Lee Richardson, the Chief of Police and Park and Zoo Superintendent. The original intention was to house species common to the local area. Each committee member of the Izaak Walton League was supposed to find a local animal to donate to get the zoo started. When two of the League members dealt with a passing circus, they ended up purchasing an African lioness. On April 26th, 1950, the zoo was formally named Lee Richardson Zoo.
PHOTOGRAPHS COURTESY OF: FINNEY COUNTY HISTORIAL MUSEUM
Today, Lee Richardson Zoo is home to 250 animals representing 110-plus species within 50 acres of grounds. As one of the last free pedestrian admission zoos in the country, Lee Richardson Zoo has an annual attendance of 150,000 – 200,000 people and is one of the top family destinations in Kansas. Visitors come from across the United States. The majority of visitors are from western Kansas and neighboring states of Colorado, Oklahoma and Texas. With the unique drive-thru feature, guests can view a portion of exhibits from their car.
Lee Richardson Zoo is accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA). Founded in 1924, the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) is a nonprofit organization dedicated to the advancement of accredited zoos and aquariums in the areas of animal care, wildlife conservation, education and science. AZA is America's leading accrediting organization for zoos and aquariums, and accredits only those institutions that have achieved rigorous standards for animal care, education, wildlife conservation and science.
WHAT ARE THE ZOO HOURS AND FEES?
Lee Richardson Zoo is free to pedestrians and open from 8 a.m. – 7 p.m. April 1 – Labor Day. Winter hours start the day after Labor Day and run through March 31. The vehicle gate closes one hour before the zoo closes (4 p.m. in winter and 6 p.m. in summer). From November through March, the vehicle gate opens at 10 a.m.
HOW DO I BECOME A MEMBER?
Click on the membership tab to learn more about joining Friends of Lee Richardson Zoo. Memberships are valid for one year after the purchase date.
WHEN IS THE BEST TIME TO VISIT?
The animals tend to be more active during moderate temperatures (summer mornings or winter afternoons), or when there has been a change in weather. The zoo is a popular destination on weekends, especially during the summer. If you would like to avoid the crowd, swing by during the week.
HOW MUCH TIME SHOULD I ALLOW FOR MY VISIT?
Lee Richardson Zoo covers over 50 acres of Frederick Finnup Park. Reserve at least an hour for a quick walk through. Better yet, set aside 2-3 hours of morning or afternoon to explore the zoo in depth. Bring a picnic lunch or order lunch to go at the Safari Shoppe, located at the zoo entrance.
CAN I FEED THE ANIMALS?
Please don’t! Zoo animals have specific nutritional requirements and their diet is carefully planned and monitored to ensure that they remain healthy. Our animal care staff also monitors food consumption. When the public feeds our animals items that are not part of their diet, it can cause illness, obesity or death. For those who would like to experience the fun of feeding, we offer public giraffe feedings during the summer season. If you miss a giraffe feeding, fish and duck feeders are available year-round at several locations in the zoo. Please remember this feed is for the ducks and fish only.
DOES THE ZOO OFFER EDUCATIONAL PROGRAMS?
ARE THERE VOLUNTEERS ON GROUDS?
During busier visitation times our education volunteers may be found on grounds with Discovery Carts featuring interesting animal biofacts. We are always looking for new helping hands, click here to learn about becoming a volunteer today.
CAN I BRING MY PET TO THE ZOO?
Thank you for leaving pets at home! Pets can carry and transfer disease to other animals. For the safety of our animals, pets are not permitted in the zoo. Feel free to walk your dog on the trails outside the zoo. Pets may enter the zoo if they remain inside the car with windows closed, but please do not leave them alone in the hot car when visiting the zoo. Animals are permitted when they are assisting an individual with a disability.
WILL THE ZOO OFFER A HOME FOR MY PET?
For the safety of our animals, the zoo does not offer a home for unwanted pets (snakes, birds, turtles etc.), as they can carry and transfer disease. The zoo usually does not have room for more animals. If you are thinking about adopting an exotic pet into your family, we ask you to consider the following:
WILL THE ZOO TAKE AN INJURED OR ORPHANED WILD ANIMAL?
We are happy to visit with you about native wildlife that you may believe needs assistance, but the zoo is not a licensed wildlife rehabilitator. In most instances, native wildlife should be left alone. Contact the Kansas Department of Wildlife and Tourism for more information: http://kdwpt.state.ks.us/.
CAN I RESERVE A MEETING ROOM OR PICNIC SHELTER?
Yes, click here for more information.
WHAT ELECTRONICS ARE ACCEPTED IN FRIENDS' RECYCLING PROGRAM?
Friends of Lee Richardson Zoo recycle and benefit from outdated electronics. Recyclable items include: cell phones, laser cartridges, inkjet cartridges, electronic tablets, electronic notebooks, eReaders, laptops, MP3 players and Personal Digital Assistants. Recycling old cell phones keeps mercury and other toxic chemicals out of the air and water supply. All qualified cartridges are reused within the remanufacturing process to produce inkjet and laser toner cartridges, significantly reducing the need for using additional natural resources. Please drop off any of the above items at the Friends office, located in the Finnup Center for Conservation Education.
WHO DO I CONTACT ABOUT THE OTHER FACILITES LOCATED IN FREDERICK FINNUP PARK?
Though located in the Finnup Park facilities, the Finney County Historical Museum and the ‘Big Pool’ are not managed by the zoo department. The ‘Big Pool’ and ball fields are operated by the Garden City Recreation Commission. Call 620-276-1200 with questions related to the pool. Contact the Finney County Historical Society at 620-272-3664 with questions related to the museum. Contact the parks department for shelter reservations in Finnup Park (shelters outside the zoo fence) at 620-276-1130.
WHAT IF I HAVE NOT FOUND THE ANSWER TO MY QUESTION ON THIS WEB SITE?
Feel free to call the zoo. We want you to enjoy your visit. For general questions about our facilities, call Lee Richardson Zoo at 620-276-1250. For questions about membership, special events and zoo adoptions, call Friends of Lee Richardson Zoo at 620-276-6243. For questions about food, drinks, rentals and gifts, please call the Safari Shoppe at 620-276-2661.
April 1 – Labor Day: 10:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m. daily
Day after Labor Day to March 31
10:00 a.m. – 4 p.m. daily
(CLOSED DECEMBER & JANUARY)
April 1 – Labor Day: 10:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. daily
Day after Labor Day to March 31 10:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. Saturday & Sunday (by chance during the week)
Train tickets may be purchased from the Safari Shoppe
$4 per ticket for non-members
$2 per ticket for members with a Family or Grandparent membership (or higher level)
Single $18 for first hour
Double $28 for first hour
Triple $38 for first hour
Photo ID is required for rental. Must be at least 18 years of age to rent. DISCOUNT FOR MEMBERS
The Safari Shoppe is the ideal place to grap a picnic lunch when visiting the zoo. Menu items include hamburgers, Nathan's hot dogs, chicken sandwiches, turkey bacon club sandwiches, nachos, churros, sodas, slushes, cherry limeades and more.
SAFARI SACK LUNCHES
$3.99 each plus tax
The following options are available:
Safari Sack Lunches include one of the above main courses, fruit cup, baked goldfish crackers and a 6 ounce juice drink pouch. Minimum total of 15 meals with a minimum per choice of 5. Whole fruit can be substituted for fruit cup upon request.
To order Safari Sack Lunches submit a group sack lunch request form to firstname.lastname@example.org or call the Safari Shoppe at 620-276-2661. Safari Sack Lunch orders must be placed and confirmed at least one week in advance of your visit. If you have questions about allergies or other dietary concerns, please contact the Safari Shoppe Manager at (620) 276-2661 or (620) 276-6243.