The Sedgwick County Zoo is getting interactive.
On Tuesday, the zoo announced it is now offering behind-the-scenes experiences with the Humboldt penguins of its Cessna Penguin Cove.
During these experiences, which are offered four times per week, guests can feed penguins, learn about them and perhaps pat them.
It’s the first step the zoo has taken in a larger effort to become more interactive for guests, said Jennica King, marketing and public relations manager for the zoo.
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“We’ve been doing a great job of allowing guests to fall in love with the animals we have and we have Keeper Chats, which allow them to learn more about our animals, but this is just one next step to get them a face-to-face, hands-on experience,” she said.
The Penguin Encounter will be offered at 3 p.m. from Thursdays to Sundays. Ten people can sign up for each day’s experience.
It costs an extra $35 for zoo members or $40 for the general public. That’s on top of regular admission to the zoo.
Penguin Encounters must be booked before noon on the day you plan to encounter them.
The experience, in general, lasts about 45 minutes to an hour.
The zoo plans to add more interactive, behind-the-scenes experiences in the coming months.
Other zoos that have added similar experiences report “it’s something they can’t schedule enough of,” King said.
“We’ve been, across the board, looking for ways to allow the guests to get even deeper inside the zoo,” she said. “This is our first foray into that, and it’ll continue to grow from there.”
Tanganyika Wildlife Park in Goddard also allows its guests to purchase behind-the-scenes encounters with its penguins and other animals.
King said the Sedgwick County Zoo’s offerings will differ in that there will be more zookeeper interaction at the Sedgwick County Zoo. Not all of the zoo’s planned interactive encounters will involve feeding the animals, she said.
“It’s more of an experience — something that you’re going to do with your whole family as a birthday or Christmas gift or some kind of special occasion,” she said.