Catch up with the latest news at LRZ with articles, press releases, and other fun updates

written and created by Zoo Staff.

Employee of the Quarter

Congratulations to Alyssa Mechler for being recognized as the Lee Richardson Zoo's Employee of the Quarter!

To acknowledge her efforts and outstanding performance, Alyssa was nominated for this award by fellow zoo employees.

Alyssa is the Conservation Awareness Manager at LRZ and is known for her ability to problem solve, willingness to jump into action, and passion for conservation. 

Thank you, Alyssa, for your continued hard work and dedication!


Image: Alyssa Mechler, Conservation Awareness Manager


Lee Richardson Zoo has received the Center for Interactive Learning and Collaboration’s (CILC) 2020-2021 Pinnacle Award for the tenth time.  To receive the Pinnacle Award, organizations must score 95% or above for the entire year on the evaluations of their Distance Learning programs. 


Each year, content providers from around the world are recognized for their “Programs of Distinction,” and for receiving outstanding ratings on program evaluations by educators and activity directors. Recipients of this annual award represent museums, science centers, art galleries, zoos, aquariums, musicians, and authors. They stand out as demonstrating remarkable quality of educational content and exceptional skill at program delivery.


With this being the 10th year, the zoo has received the award, Lee Richardson Zoo has been inducted into the CILC’s Pinnacle Award Hall of Fame.  Jan Zanetis, Managing Director of CILC notes “The last year of operations has been an unprecedented challenge for our content providers with many schools and museums closed due to the Pandemic. CILC’s content providers not only rose to the challenge, they surmounted it.”


The zoo currently offers Distance Learning (digital interactive) programming to locations around the world, sharing up close looks at live animals, which are aligned with topics meeting national education standards.  For more information about our award-winning programs, please email us at zoo.education@gardencityks.us or by phone at 620-276-1250.  

Pinnacle Award
Hall of Fame

Image: CILC Pinnacle Hall of Fame Award

Volunteer at LRZ!

By Julianne Turner, Guest Engagement Coordinator

As the holiday season comes to an end and the new year begins, the Lee Richardson Zoo will start recruiting for new volunteers. If you are someone who loves animals and are excited to learn new things, this is the opportunity for you! There are a wide variety of opportunities as a Zoo Volunteer: from handling animals, to crafting with kids, to weeding and gardening, and even helping with translations, the Zoo has a place for everyone!

                The best part about the Zoo’s volunteer program is the ability to make the experience almost whatever you want. If you enjoy helping out behind the scenes, some opportunities for volunteers include assisting with setting up for large events, preparing craft supplies for our Story Time participants, and maintaining our library and biofact collections. If you like gardening, we can always use help around the Zoo with weeding, planting, and making our garden spaces look nice!

                Do you want to get up close and personal with some animals? You can help with Animal Encounters or become an Animal Handler after your first year of volunteering! As an Animal Handler, you get to work closely with our Ambassador Animals at the Zoo by socializing them, which is when we handle them behind the scenes. That way the animals stay comfortable and feel safe around people. You can also assist us with bringing the animals on programs and presenting them to visitors, which helps others learn more about each species!

                We would love to start offering a new opportunity to translate programs and chats to Spanish or other languages. ¿Hablas español? Are you bilingual in any other languages? We would love to have you join our team! By assisting us with translations, you will help share some amazing educational experiences with people in the community while also making our zoo even more accessible to everyone who calls Garden City home.

                Think you might be interested and want to learn more about the volunteer program? On Saturday, February 12th, we will be hosting a Volunteer Open House at the Finnup Center for Conservation Education.  Here you will get to meet current volunteers and staff members who you would be working alongside, and you can ask all of the questions you have about the program! Stop by the Finnup Center at the Zoo any time between 1 p.m. and 3 p.m. to learn more about how you can get involved as a Lee Richardson Zoo Volunteer! For more information, you can also email us at zoo.education@gardencityks.us.


Image: Docents lead a Discovery Cart