Tanganyika Wildlife Park is a place for animal encounters like you’ve never seen anywhere else. While starting as only one man’s plan to have animals, it has grown into the third largest collection of animals in Kansas. This family owned park is just the place to spark the same excitement in your family. They need our support.
Best part The animal encounters!
Worst part There are so many penguins in the open air building, it was stinky when we were there. They are animals after all.
Where Goddard, Kansas; 15 minutes west of Wichita, Kansas
Encounter Pass – Adult $34.99, Kids (3-11) $29.99; includes single day admission plus five animal encounters
Single Day Park Admission – Adult $24.99, Kids (3-11) $19.99
Season passes aren’t much more so go for it!
Half a day; it is only open six hours a day and closed in the winter. Check hours online.
You get up close and personal with animals. Unlike most zoos which have more expensive special packages for behind the scenes tours only (which are also available here), at Tanganyika Wildlife Park you have the opportunities to have lots of short, low-key, up close moments.
The animal schedule can vary daily so check the calendar online. Lemurs crawl into your lap and take food from you, rhinos come up for you to pet them, lorikeets hop along your arm, and pygmy hippos open their mouth for your carrot. While many other zoos offer giraffe feedings, this zoo so many more giraffes than most zoos.
Not all of the encounters are available all day long and have only several time slots during the day for the animals’ wellbeing. Plan around these times and fill in the gaps with the continuous ones. During our visit, there was another ticket option to have more than the five encounters. I honestly think you will run out of time or stamina before you go to double encounters especially if not all of them are open.
How Does an Animal Encounter Work?
With the purchase of your encounter day ticket, each member of your family get a bracelet that they scan with each of your animal encounters. Because of this, not all your family has to participate in the same encounter. Because each encounter is so small, it isn’t difficult to have one child feed the rhino while you stand there, saving your pass for returning to feed the guinea pigs with the other child. However, with this in mind, you can’t really give your extra pass to a kid who wants it.
Remember the encounters depend on animal participation. The day we were there, the rhino was not having any part of it. No matter how they tried to lure out of her water hole, that was much more appealing than coming to eat carrots from kids’ hands. Make sure your kids are feeling flexible.
These animals are so close to you! During our visit, I even commented to a wandering zoo worker with a baby goat that I couldn’t believe how close we were able to get to the animals. They told me that they hadn’t had any issues and have a lot of trust for the visitors. As this type of animal experience is more off the beaten path, I believe that’s more likely true.
While there are cages and barricades for both your and their safety, this isn’t the typical zoo with big moats separating you. You are close enough that you will be about two feet from monkeys in their cages. Within arm reach. And they are very interested in you and will get up close to check you out. And not all animals are for encounters. There are still plenty in big roomy cages like a regular zoo like the wild cats and sloths and penguins and tiger.
Heads up: Make sure you have a conversation with the kids about expected behavior toward animals, or they will end up like mine trying to pass grass to the monkey. Soooo tempting!
- Don’t let the small-size and simple layout deter you! The animal encounters make up for the size. There are more than 400 animals, but you will walk less than a mile. The paths are paved and easily maneuvered with strollers. They even have strollers, wagons, and scooters you can rent in the park if you need one.
- Follow your GPS, and it will be correct. You aren’t lost. This zoo is not very well marked from the road, and you will think you’re in a neighborhood.
- The zoo is very close to the parking lot. Leave lunch in the car and quickly go back to get it for a midday break. By showing your receipt, you can get back in the park’s main gate easily.
- Take advantage of unlimited drink refills. Go to the snack area and stock up on cold drinks especially in the middle of the summer. It gets hot outside and a good icee seems to make the kids have more energy. Right?!
- There is a playground in the park if you need to let the wiggly kids burn off some steam. When we were there summer of 2020, it was still under construction but looking good!
- Bring the hats and sunglasses if visiting in the summer. You will be outside all of your trip other than some shade under the snack pavilion. We melted in June.
The best education about animals comes from animals. Visit all the zoos you can, be members, and make special animal friends. Teach your kids to talk to the zoo staff and ask good questions. Take your sketch pad and draw them. Go on tours if you can. Zoos shouldn’t be approached as checklists to rush through. Sit awhile and watch the animals behavior.
When there aren’t zoo animals to see and zookeepers to learn from, go find some animals in your backyard. Grab the binoculars and get a bird feeder. Sit in nature and wait.
However, that isn’t always an option. TV shows can totally count as learning, and there are some great ones. Watch some documentaries and learning shows like Animal Planet and Blue Planet. Everything my kids know about animals we owe to Wild Kratts. I used to question the abundant animal facts they spouted as we walked around zoos, but I learned my lesson a long time ago. If it was mentioned on Wild Kratts, my kids know it.
Get some beautiful picture books. Listen to podcasts about animals. However, as great as it is to talk and learn about animals, they are best seen. Travel and go find some!
Strataca – Our list during this road trip included the salt mines north of Wichita, Kansas. Doesn’t it just sound cool? It’s an active salt mine with mining car rides around underground to check it out. We just ran out of time! https://www.underkansas.org
Tanganyika is worth the detour off your Kansas route! You’ll want to go back soon!
Reclaiming Wonders // Bobbie
With years of planning family road trips, Bobbie is an expert at incorporating amazing activities into her family travel plan which she shares on the blog, on Instagram, and through content creation for destinations and products. As a homeschool mom of four kids in Georgia, she strives to create a learning life full of adventures around the dinner table or throughout the United States. Learn Bobbie’s story to be encouraged to leave the busy life and reclaim the wonders of life.