The Sedgwick County Zoo first opened 45 years ago on Aug. 25, 1971. Located in a former milo field, the zoo initially had only its American and Asian farms and 117 animals. Thanks to the successful partnership of Sedgwick County and the nonprofit Sedgwick County Zoological Society, along with the support and efforts of many donors, volunteers and dedicated staff members – especially zoo executive director Mark Reed, who announced this week his plans to retire at the end of the year – the zoo has grown into one of the biggest and best in the country. With the addition of each new exhibit, community pride has also grown. That’s why the public reacted so strongly when the current majority on the County Commission reneged last year on a promised funding increase and then began meddling with the zoo’s operating agreement. Don’t mess with 45 years of success. – Phillip Brownlee
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