ZOO GNUS

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

written and created by Zoo Staff.

The Lee Richardson Zoo is currently open daily from 8AM to 7PM with the drive through closing at 6PM.

 

The Finnup Center for Conservation Education will be open Monday through Friday from 8AM to 5PM.

Guests may notice a few changes during their next visit.  The zoo will have two entry gates open at the archway main entrance to allow separate paths of entry and exit. 

Beginning at the entrance, and throughout the zoo’s pathways, guests will find yellow paw prints on the sidewalk spaced six feet apart as a reminder to practice social distancing from other zoo guests. 

Guests are encouraged to avoid large groups, wear masks, and to wash their hands after using high touch areas such as pop machines, water fountains, playground equipment, and interactive displays. 

 

The Marie Osterbuhr Aviary will remain temporarily closed. 

 

Thank you for your support of Lee Richardson Zoo, we look forward to having you back safely. 

LRZ is Open!

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On Tuesday, Septermber 15th, 2020 we had an official ribbon cutting ceremony for four new areas of the zoo including, Primate Forest - Lemurs!, a flamingo habitat, a new Animal Health Facility, and the Conservation Carousel Plaza. 

Coloring pages were made available at the ceremony but for those unable to join us, they are available below!

Continuing the Fun!

Lee Richardson Zoo is very happy to announce that Ember, the zoo’s ten-year-old female red panda, is taking care of two healthy cubs that were born on August 17.  Mother and cubs are doing well.  This is Ember’s seventh litter.

 

Red panda cubs look like miniature versions of the adults and generally stay in or near their den for 8-10 weeks after birth.  Based on the timing of events with Ember’s previous litters, Animal Care staff members expect these cubs to make their first outdoor appearance sometime in late October or early November.  Until then, footage of the cubs will be on the zoo’s website (www.leerichardsonzoo.org), the zoo Facebook page and YouTube channel.

 

Superb climbers, red pandas can descend trees headfirst like a squirrel thanks to a special rotating ankle joint. In the wild, they are found from Nepal to Burma, and into Central China.  They are listed as Endangered by the IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature) primarily due to the destruction of their habitat for human use (logging, farming, firewood, etc…).  There has also been an increase in poaching and trafficking for the pet trade.

There are also four new roadrunner chicks at the zoo.  The chicks hatched between August 11 and August 16.  This is the second clutch for parents Chevy and Lexus.  The expanded family is doing well.  The birds live in the Marie Osterbuhr Aviary flight.  While the flight is closed because the parents are being protective of their new family members, you may be able to catch sight of them from the walkway outside the aviary.

 

Roadrunners are native to arid desert areas mainly in the southwestern United States.  They can reach speeds up to 20 miles per hour while running and prefer to run or walk over flying.  

 

 

There are also four new roadrunner chicks at the zoo.  The chicks hatched between August 11 and August 16.  This is the second clutch for parents Chevy and Lexus.  The expanded family is doing well.  The birds live in the Marie Osterbuhr Aviary flight.  While the flight is closed because the parents are being protective of their new family members, you may be able to catch sight of them from the walkway outside the aviary.

 

Roadrunners are native to arid desert areas mainly in the southwestern United States.  They can reach speeds up to 20 miles per hour while running and prefer to run or walk over flying.  

Photo: Emily Sexson - Conservation Education Manager

Zoo Welcomes Red Panda Cubs and Roadrunner Chicks

Lee Richardson Zoo is happy to announce that Johari, a critically endangered black rhinoceros who lives at the zoo, is pregnant. 

 

Ten-year-old Johari and her mate, seven-year-old Jabari, came to the zoo in 2016 on a recommendation from the Association of Zoos and Aquariums’ Eastern Black Rhinoceros Species Survival Plan (SSP).  SSPs are cooperatively managed programs with goals of genetically and demographically healthy populations, the long-term sustainability of populations, and enhancing the conservation of the species in the wild. 

 

Staff have been monitoring Johari’s condition via periodic blood samples.  Her latest blood tests show the typical profile of a pregnant rhinoceros.  The zoo will continue to monitor the pregnancy via blood tests and work on operant conditioning for an ultrasound to provide another means of monitoring the pregnancy.  Rhinoceros gestation is 15-16 months.  Johari is estimated to be approximately half-way through the pregnancy.

 

Eastern black rhinos are native to eastern Africa (Kenya and Tanzania). They are listed as Critically Endangered by the IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature).  They are the rarest of the three remaining black rhino subspecies.  Poaching for their horn continues to be their biggest threat.  Conservation and management efforts have resulted in a slow increase in population numbers in recent years.

 

Black rhinos are browsers.  They use their prehensile upper lip to grab and hold leaves and branches and guide them into their mouth.  They may look big and bulky, but a black rhino can run at speeds up to 40 miles per hour.

Photo: Emily Sexson - Conservation Education Manager

Johari & Jabari are Expecting!

Lee Richardson Zoo is happy to invite you to come meet a new resident. Brighton, a 1 ½-year-old male North American river otter, recently joined Ariel, the 17-year-old female otter who calls the zoo her home.  The young otter came from the Northeastern Wisconsin Zoo.

 

When you visit, Ariel is the bathing beauty, enjoying laying out in the sun or the shade depending on her mood and taking an occasional dip.  Brighton is more like the typical kid at the beach, playing with everything he can find while enjoying a splashing good time in the water every now and then.  They both enjoy a good nap during the day.  The otters can be seen in the Kansas Waters exhibit.  Current zoo hours are 8 a.m. until 7 p.m. daily.

 

Otters are a member of the Mustelid or weasel family.  Other members of the Mustelid family include skunks, badgers, weasels, minks, fishers, ferrets, and wolverines.

Photo: Emily Sexson - Conservation Education Manager

Welcome Brighton!

Zoo FAQs

By Kristi Newland, Zoo Director

There are some questions that just naturally seem to bubble up during a visit to the zoo.  Where did that animal come from?  What do they eat?  Where’s the water fountain?  Asking questions is a wonderful way to learn.  It shows an active and engaged mind and a desire to grow in understanding.  Understanding is a big part of making a connection, and that’s what the zoo is all about.

 

With school starting soon, a timely question is, “How do I become a zookeeper?” Stay in school.  These days many zoos require a college degree.  There are some that require only a high school diploma, but the competition for jobs is intense, so the degree is helpful.  Experience definitely helps even if you have that college degree.  Volunteer at your local zoo or vet clinic.  Help out on the family farm or ranch.  Get a summer job involving animals (pet store, zoo, vet clinic, etc…). 

 

Since we’re still in summer and summer can get quite hot here, “Where’s the water fountain?” is likely to come up.  We have five public water fountains at this time: one by the restroom west of the lion exhibit, one on the south side of the bison and elk habitat, one by the restroom near the playground west of Wild Asia and two water fountains in the Finnup Center for Conservation Education (open 8-5 Monday – Friday).  Another will be added to the list next month when the new lemur area opens.  If you’re interested in a broader selection of beverages, there are a number of drink machines throughout the zoo, or you can visit the service window or counter at the Safari Shoppe (located at the pedestrian entrance of the zoo) for something to quench your thirst.  All proceeds at the Safari Shoppe benefit the zoo.  For your added convenience, in addition to the public restrooms already mentioned you can also find restrooms in the Finnup Center and also by the locomotive north of the rhinoceros exhibit.

 

The graphics that share information about the zoo residents will provide the answer to “Where are the animals from?” showing what part of the world the species is native to. The graphics also contain many other interesting facts about the animals: endangered status, what they eat in the wild, and more.  As far as the individual animals are concerned, odds are they were either born here or at another zoo.  Rarely do animals come out of the wild anymore to populate zoos.

 

“What do the animals eat living at the zoo as opposed to in the wild?” With the variety of animals that live at Lee Richardson Zoo the answer to that question is as varied as the species.  A mainstay for the hooved species is grass hay or alfalfa.  Diets range from a special insectivore chow for the anteater to special commercially prepared meat for the carnivores.  There is a whole industry focused on making feeds for animals, from pets to those on farms and those in zoos.  The various grains, pellets, and chows, as well as meats, are designed to meet all the nutritional needs of the animal concerned.  In addition to the nutritionally well-rounded chow or meat that is the center of the diet, we add fruits, vegetables, bones, or other items if appropriate for a little variety and to encourage natural behaviors. 

 

“Can I feed the animals?” is also a question that guests often ask.  Each animal is on a special diet designed specifically for them.  Not only is it designed by species but also by individual.  Some may have medical issues, allergies, or need to lose weight or even gain weight.  All of that and more is considered in developing their diet.  Many of the animals are offered browse – tree limbs with or without leaves – to chew on.  That too is selected and offered with care since many species of trees are actually toxic if eaten.  Since the diet is so special, and some of the animals can be dangerous, the general answer to the question is, we let the keepers who take care of the animals feed them so they get what they need.  The zoo developed special animal encounters with some of the animals during which guests can feed the animals, but those encounters have been postponed this year due to social distancing issues.

 

“Can I pet the animals?”  The residents of the zoo are here for your viewing pleasure.  Reaching through the fence or over the fence to pet an animal on the other side can be dangerous for both you and the animal.  While zoo animals are accustomed to people to some extent, they are not pets to be played with.  They are ambassadors for their counterparts in the wild, here to give us a peek into their world. 

 

“Do we have any babies?”  Lee Richardson Zoo participates in cooperative breeding programs with other zoos in AZA (Association of Zoos and Aquariums).  Our goal is to only produce animals we can house here or know there’s a good home for elsewhere.  Currently, we have a young roadrunner in the Marie Osterbuhr Aviary flight and are on baby watch with Cleo, the female giraffe.

 

During your visit to Lee Richardson Zoo, other questions may occur to you.  Please ask any of the staff you encounter.  We enjoy sharing information about the animals and the zoo.

312 E Finnup Drive

Garden City, KS 67846

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