The Friends of the Kansas Wildlife Exhibit and the Wichita Parks Foundation completed improvements to the Kansas Wildlife Exhibit in Central Riverside Park, thanks the support of many generous community partners, including:
- a $100,000 donation from the Pamela Edwards Pet Trust, announced in May 2015. The donation serves as seed money for needed improvements.
Working with Jim Mason of the Great Plains Nature Center and Chris Kliewer from GLMV Zoos, the Friends have created a list of necessary improvements. Priority improvements include (progress indicated in parentheses):
- Security upgrades to prevent vandalism to the exhibit (Completed September 2015)
- Improvements to the exhibits, which entail enhancements to the animals' habitats (Some improvements completed September 2015; additional improvements planned)
- New screening around the exhibit enclosure (Fall 2017)
- New educational displays (Design concepts and sign content under consideration Fall 2015)
- Improved animal handling space (Some improvements completed September 2015; others planned)
As some exhibit improvements begin right away in Summer 2015, certain animals will be moved off-site while work is done.
History of the Kansas Wildlife Exhibit
The Kansas Wildlife Exhibit has been a mainstay of Riverside Park since the early 1900s, serving as the city’s zoo until the Sedgwick County Zoo was opened in 1974. As a result, in the mid-1980s, the exhibit’s focus shifted to native Kansas animals. Among the current collection are a bobcat (Bobby), a skunk, various birds and Chappa the beaver.
Working closely with the Wichita Parks Foundation, the Friends of the Kansas Wildlife Exhibit have formed a committee to address the long-term needs of the facility, including identification of funding sources. This new donation will provide seed money for some of that future work.
“We’re pleased with the response of the community, particularly with the eagerness of the Friends of the Kansas Wildlife Exhibit volunteers, as well as the generosity of this donor,” said Brent Thomas, Wichita Parks Foundation President. “Their efforts will go a long way towards ensuring necessary improvements are made and that future generations of Wichitans will be able to enjoy the exhibit.”
HOW YOU CAN HELP
The Friends of the Wildlife Exhibit can use your help, be it a donation of services, your time, or money. You can can contact the foundation by calling Stacey Hamm, Development Director, at 316-268-4124 to discuss how you can support the improvements and help the Friends of the Kansas Wildlife Exhibit.
You can also "Like" the Friends on Facebook to get updates and learn more about the group.