The Kansas City Zoo & Aquarium: Photo Feature

The Kansas City Zoo & Aquarium has always been one of my happy places. When I was younger, my family would often take summer trips to the zoo, but as I got older, I found myself dreading the blistering July heat and how tired and miserable I would feel after visiting. 

But after many years of avoidance, I finally mustered up the courage to take a long-awaited family trip. The wonderful spring-like weather in early February allowed the perfect chance to avoid the unpleasant sweatiness. Not only that, I was excited to see the new aquarium building! In September of 2023, The Kansas City Zoo & Aquarium introduced The Sobela Aquarium to the public (along with a name change). Although I didn’t make it to every part of the park, I made sure to check out the aquatic habitats along with a few surprise mammals.

(The Hilltop Monitor/Koda Rose)

My first stop was the Stingray Bay touchpool to pet the Cownose rays and Southern stingrays. I wasn’t sure what they would feel like at first, but after petting the first one, I felt a little dumb for thinking they would be anything but slimy!

Next, I walked around the Australia section of the Zoo. Here, I got to see lots of birds, kangaroos, wallabies, dingoes, camels and more! Most of the animals in this area were napping, but I had a silly interaction with an Australian Straw-Necked Ibis.

(The Hilltop Monitor/Koda Rose)

Around the corner from “Australia” was the Tiger Trail, home of the new Sumatran Tiger, Phoebe. She was very vocal since it was time for her lunch, and as she grew more and more impatient, she even tried opening the door herself!

Down the path from Phoebe’s habitat, I had the strangest experience of my life. At the Orangutan exhibit, I think I made a new friend. As Kalijon the orangutan spun around on her makeshift swing, she and I made eye contact. Next thing I knew, with my hand on the glass, she gave me the best high five!

(The Hilltop Monitor/Koda Rose)

After such a bizarre interaction, it was finally time to loop around to the Sobela Aquarium building with 34 different habitats. Here, I immediately fell in love with a cute sea turtle. Everything looked so relaxing. There were so many different styles of tanks: overhead tanks, cylindrical tanks, circular window tanks, and tons more — all wonderfully decorated.

My absolute favorite part of the Sobela Aquarium was the jellyfish room. Here, I saw five species of jellyfish, but the ethereal South American Sea Nettle mesmerized me.

(The Hilltop Monitor/Koda Rose)

Of course, I couldn’t conclude my visit without a trip to the gift shop! Although there were so many options to choose from, I settled on a sea turtle plushie to remember the sea turtle I saw in the aquarium and a wolf plushie because I thought it looked cute.

(The Hilltop Monitor/Koda Rose)

This was one of the best visits I’ve ever had, and I will definitely be going again very soon! I can confidently say that I no longer dread the Zoo. I can’t wait to see Kalijon again and make friends with even more animals.

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