With more than 3,000 animals spanning 400 species and grouped geographically in natural habitats, any visit to the Sedgwick County Zoo (SCZ) has a good chance to be eventful! But if you’re looking for an extra special way to commemorate the 50th anniversary since the 1971 opening of the zoo in Wichita, consider one of these special events in 2021 and 2022. Regular zoo admission applies unless noted.

Wild Encounters

Ongoing starting June 4

Interactive experiences were put on hold during the pandemic, but SCZ is bringing back Wild Encounters with an expanded lineup. You can now have an interactive experience with Humboldt penguins, Aldabra tortoises, equine (horses/donkeys/mules), ecotherm (animals dependent on external sources of body heat, including iguana and snakes) and African elephants.

The newest addition involves feeding an elephant while chatting with a keeper about how they care for the zoo’s herd. Wild Encounters range from $20-$40 in addition to zoo admission, with discounts for members. Check the SCZ website for details on scheduling.

Father's Day Car Show

June 20

See classic cars, antique autos and modern models while exploring your favorite animal exhibits at the Father's Day Car Show. Dads are admitted free with an additional paid admission.

Twilight Tuesdays

July 6, 13, 20, 27

Cox Communications presents Twilight Tuesdays at the Zoo, providing $3 admission all day on Tuesdays in July when the SCZ is open 9 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. Admission is limited, so schedule your visit in advance. No voucher or coupon required.


Sept. 11

After taking 2020 off for COVID-19, Zoobilee will be back for 2021. Enjoy local food, drink and music at the zoo during the wildest birthday party of the year. Tickets are $165 per person and typically go on sale in August for the zoo’s largest fundraiser of the year.

Grand Opening of Slawson Family Asian Big Cat Trek

Oct. 1

Combining all Asian cats into one exhibit area will more than double the square footage of the existing Tiger Trek experience making it one of the largest exhibit areas at the SCZ. This expansion will increase the number of Amur leopards and introduce Snow leopards, providing greater opportunities for breeding and expanding the population of this species.

Wild Lights Asian Lantern Festival

Oct. 1-Dec. 5

Larger-than-life Asian Lantern sculptures will illuminate the zoo every evening. The event will run Wednesdays through Sundays from Oct. 1 to Dec. 5. Guests will experience dazzling scenes of glowing wildlife, beautiful archways and magical interactive displays. Tickets will be $17 for general public, $15 for members and children 2 and under are free.

Boo at the Zoo

Oct. 23-24

Bring your ghouls and goblins in costume for Halloween spooky fun at Boo at the Zoo. Candy will be prepackaged and distributed upon exiting the zoo.

Veterans Day at the Zoo

Nov. 11

Free zoo admission to all military personnel and their immediate families for Veterans Day at the Zoo. To receive free admission, show a military or veteran ID, discharge papers or other official identification. Families of deployed military personnel must show an active duty ID. No need to reserve tickets in advance, just come to the admission window and show proper ID. Note that zoo entry closes at 3:30 p.m. that day.

Grand Opening of Stingray Cove

April 2022

The first aquatic touch experience ever at SCZ. Guests will be able to touch stingrays and small sharks, with the option to feed them as well. Stingray Cove is scheduled to operate seasonally for five years.

Opening of Martha C. Buford Safari Express

Memorial Day 2022

An electric CP Huntington train will run on 1.3 miles of track around the perimeter of the SCZ, providing guests the opportunity to enjoy views of animals never previously seen. There will be two train stations on opposite ends of the Zoo, allowing guests to get on or off at either station. Two locomotives will carry up to 80 guests per trip.

For more on the zoo’s golden jubilee year, we worked with SCZ executive director Dr. Jeff Ettling to highlight milestones from the past five decades and take a look and new developments coming in the near future at the most visited outdoor attraction in the state.