Zoo Rethinks New Exhibits, Focuses On Community's Desires

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Topeka, Kan. -- There is something missing at the Topeka Zoo and it's more than just the hyenas. The zoo is going back to the drawing board to make sure it gives the community what it wants.

"People in Topeka want more than just animals behind a fence," said Topeka Zoo director, Brendan Wiley. "They want an experience."

In order to give them that experience, the staff is taking a look at the entire zoo.

"We want to make sure we've got all our priorities in place," Wiley said. "That we're addressing all of our needs, that we're fixing all of our problems before we dive head first into construction of new buildings."

The first thing they plan to work on is the Kansas carnivores exhibit. They will fix the pool so the river otters can return, and add a roof and climbing structures to make the mountain lions more active.

As the renovations continue, those involved will keep their audience in mind.

"There's a pride here in this community about the zoo," Wiley said. "A feeling that people want to feel again. If we've got the opportunity to step back and ask ourselves the question 'are we doing everything that we need to do to make sure the community gets what it wants,' then that's an opportunity we are going to take."

Wiley hopes to include educational opportunities into current and future exhibits during the redesign process.