Sneak Peek at Sedgwick County Zoo’s New Tiger Exhibit

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Sneak Peek at Sedgwick County Zoo’s New Tiger Exhibit

Posted: May 13, 2009 11:15 AM EDT
Updated: May 13, 2009 05:22 PM EDT
By Alana Rocha (WICHITA, Kan.)

First lions, then penguins and in a few days tigers will be the new exhibit at the Sedgwick County Zoo.

Today the media got a tour of what you can expect to see starting next week. The four cats are expected to help the zoo break attendance records this year.

Up close or from a distance. “You walk through this exhibit and no matter where you are, you can see them at some point,” Mark C. Reed, Zoo Executive Director said.

The new Tiger Trek exhibit at the Sedgwick County Zoo offers options and education.

Tiger Trek Exhibit

Reed says, “These guys would kill you immediately, these guys would play with you to death over here for the first 24 years.”

Reed says the exhibit is a true taste of a tiger’s life in the wild.

“We’re just trying to give them the whole experience of the territories and immersing the people in the tigers world. And poop is part of that world,” he said.

Reed gave a sneak peek of the tigers’ digs Wednesday. He says he knows the excitement is building.

Norma Geen trains the tigers. “I’ve seen people peeking over the fence and they’re saying, ‘The tigers. The tigers. I see them,’ ” she said.

“We’re off to the best start we’ve ever had in the first quarter, first third of the year,” Reed said of the zoo’s success.

Reed says national studies have shown gorillas, penguins and tigers are what draw people to zoos. Now that the Sedgwick County Zoo has all three, it’s looking to reach 600,000 visitors this year for the first time.

Right now, it’s budgeted to see 570,000 visitors this year.

“Obviously the county looks at this as an economic engine, people coming to the zoo, going shopping, spending money, buying gifts,” Reed said.

Money from Sedgwick County pays salaries, overtime and employee benefits. Admissions, memberships, your favorite souvenir, foundations and donations pay for everything else -including new exhibits.

Geen says of Tiger Trek, “There’s different things to explore everyday. We change it up.”

“We’ve got very good financial reserves and doing well. People love the zoo,” Reed said.

It’s a love the Sedgwick County Zoo hopes grows when people trek through the tiger’s den.

The Slawson Family Tiger Trek doesn’t open to the public until May 22nd, though members can preview the exhibit first May 16th and 17th.

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