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The Topeka Zoo
This is a small zoo but much better than you might expect from a city like Topeka. There are giraffes, lions, black bears, Komodo dragons, tigers, leopards, hippos, tamarins, an african and an asian elephant, and a rain forest exhibit complete with a sloth and toucans. Lowland gorillas and orangutans have indoor/outdoor habitats for their enjoyment and yours. There is a baby orangutan who was born in March of 2005 and is just amazingly engaging to watch. The lions are still relatively new to the zoo and will occasionally pounce at the glass hoping to get a small visitor. The zoos two hippos now have a summer river habitat outside, a great improvement over their often opaque indoor pool. You get a chance to view some great animal exhibits without the crowds other zoos have. It doesn't have lots of the stuff that other zoos have in terms of cafes and souvenier plastic cups and goofy rides but those are can be found just across the parking lot in Gage Park. There is a mini train that travels around the park ($1 per ride) and Animal Land, a free playground filled with concrete animals that kids love to climb on. During the summer it can get pretty hot, and the animals don't feel much like moving. Fortunately, for humans, there is a great pool also in Gage Park. Across the parking lot from the aquatic center is a restored carousel with rides for just 75 cents. The train and carousel have daily hours from Memorial Day to Labor Day weekend.
There is a small concessions stand in the zoo, and the zoo prohibits food from being brought in. There are plentiful picnic tables just outside the zoo gates and scattered throughout all of Gage park, just bring something to wipe down the tables or a plastic tablecloth as the local birds spend a lot of time above them. There are numerous fast food options (McDonalds, Wendys, Arbys, Sonic) and local restaurants just south of the park on Gage Boulevard and a grocery store right across 10th Street.
The zoo is open every day except Christmas and New Year's, 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. (grounds stay open until 5 p.m. though). Admission is free for those under 3, $3 for children ages 3-12, and $4.50 for adults and teens. Seniors (65 and over) can get in for $3.50.