The Sunset Zoological Park, which is located in Manhattan, Kansas, was founded in 1929 by the city of Manhattan. Originally, this piece of land was supposed to be used for a cemetery, but the ground was too rocky to bury bodies. The area was donated to be a zoo instead, and it was charted as a park in 1934, a few years after they began housing animals.
The zoo is split into five areas, based on where the animals are found in the wild. One of the most popular areas is the Kansas Plains, which has species that can be found in Kansas such as the raccoon, the swift fox, the turkey vulture, the bald eagle, and the bobcat. This area also has a prairie dog exhibit, where guests can see a family of prairie dogs living and playing. Nearby, guests can visit the Australian Walk-About exhibit, which has wallabies, emus, and an Australian aviary, as well as the African Forest Trail, which features colobus monkeys, chimpanzees, cheetahs, and an African bird exhibit.
One of the newest animal species at the Sunset Zoological Park is the Geoffrey's marmoset. Visitors can see these marmosets in the Trails of South America exhibit, which also has maned wolves, giant anteaters, Caribbean flamingos, red-eared sliders, llamas, red-footed tortoises, South American waterfowl, Chacoan peccaries, reed titi monkeys, and poison dart frogs. In this area, guests can also visit the Contact Corral, where they can get close to goats and pot-bellied pigs. The Contact Corral is a popular place for children.
The fifth area of the Sunset Zoological Park is the Asian Forest Trail. They feature more Asian animals than most zoos, and some of those found here include the Siberian (Amur) tiger, the sloth bear, the snow leopard, the chukar partridge, the golden pheasant, the red panda, the red-crowned crane, the tufted dear, the Asian small clawed otter, and the cinerous vulture. This area is also home to Brownie, the zoo's grizzly bear, who is estimated to be around 50-55 years old.
Guests may also notice that there's a house inside of the zoo. At one time, the zoo's superintendent lived in this house. Today, the house is home to zoo security so that someone is always on the premises to ensure the animals are safe around the clock. Other structures at the zoo include indoor habitat viewing areas, a pavilion, and the Chautauqua Amphitheater. The Sunset Zoological Park is also home to two butterfly gardens. These areas of the zoo are planted with flowers that are specifically meant to attract butterflies that are native to Kansas.
The zoo is available for events such as birthday parties, weddings, and corporate events. They have a number of educational opportunities and special events every year, as well as special opportunities for members. The zoo is open from 9:30 AM to 5:00 PM from April to October. During the rest of the year, they're open from noon to 5:00 PM, though some animals may not be available for viewing, depending on the weather. Admission is just $4 for adults and $2 from children, with members and kids age 2 and under free.