Kansas City Zoo

Butterflyxoeio / Flickr Creative Commons

So, you like animals? You enjoy watching them, taking care of them, and talking about them? Would you make a good zookeeper? Guest Host Brian Ellison takes a look at the true life of Kansas City Zoo zookeepers on Tuesday's Up to Date. Find out what it's really like to chase a fugitive chimpanzee and keep the penguins healthy and happy in their habitat. Speaking of penguins, you can watch the penguins at the Kansas City Zoo live right here.

Guests:

Shawn Kincaide / Flickr--CC

The Kansas City Zoo is rolling out a new system for free visits after more than 20,000 people overwhelmed the zoo during a free admission day in March.

Some guests became unruly – and shots were fired in a parking lot as people left the zoo.

"We want everybody to come to the zoo, but what wasn't working was everybody coming on that one day we designated free day," says Kansas City Zoo executive director Randy Wisthoff.

Kansas City Zoo visitors were locked up indoors for an hour Thursday while seven chimpanzees ran free outdoors in an area accessible only to zoo personnel.

Zoo Director Randy Wisthoff told TV-9 the chimps using a tree branch for a ladder was an example of primate intelligence and strength.

"Chimps are so much stronger than humans that they can go up in a tree and pull on something long enough and pull a piece of log off, that's apparently what happened," he said.

Fights and gunshots in a Kansas City Zoo parking lot are prompting a debate on the future of “free admission days” that are held four times a year. Monday's was the second such event marked by unruly behavior and fighting among young people.

No injuries were reported, but many of the throng of 20,000 zoo visitors reported they witnessed fights and heard the crack of gunshots coming from one of the Swope Park parking lots.

Esther Honig / KCUR

About 50 penguins are settling in to their new home at the Kansas City Zoo, as the Helzberg Penguin Plaza opens to the public October 25.

Kansas City Zoo director Randy Wisthoff says one of his first ideas when he arrived here ten years ago was opening a penguin exhibit. From his experience at the Omaha Zoo, he knew they were crowd pleasers.

"We hate to say it in the zoo world, but they are cute," Wisthoff says. "They do look like people.  And they’re fun in water and out of the water."

Shawn Kinkade/ Flickr-CC

Lions, tigers and (panda) bears, oh my! Two thousand zoo and aquarium professionals are in Kansas City this week for the annual convention of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums. 

In the first part of Tuesday's Up to Date, we take a look at the challenges zoos face these days and how that's been affecting attendance. We also discuss what zoos are hoping their visitors get out of the experience. 

Guests: 

Laura Ziegler / KCUR

If you're a zoo-lover, you’ve probably heard that the Kansas City Zoo’s very popular Polar Bear, Nikita, has a new friend.

Six-year-old Nikita, a male, has been joined by female Berlin, 17 years his senior.

Berlin came to Kansas City from the Lake Superior Zoo in Duluth. Her habitat there had been destroyed by this summer's floods. 

After a short stay with two neutered males at the Minnesota Zoo, wildlife conservation experts decided to pair Berlin with a more virile male.

Top Of The Morning News: Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Jun 6, 2012

A circuit judge is backing the Cass County board of commissioners in its decision to not hold a vote on a zoo tax.  Prairie Village leaders have rejected a parks sales tax proposal... It's a daily digest of headlines from KCUR.