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Examiner
  • Zoo's final free day of year is Monday

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  • There are extra treats at the zoo on Monday, and they are free – including a look at the popular new penguin exhibit.
    The Kansas City Zoo’s last 2013 day of free admission for Jackson County residents is Monday. Jackson and Cass county residents get that perk four times a year for approving a sales tax in 2010 to fund zoo improvements.
    Bring a photo ID with your Jackson or Cass county address to get in free. The zoo is in Swope Park in Kansas City. Hours are 9:30 a.m. to 4 p.m.
    Zoo officials chose Monday for a reason: The kids are out of school, and officials knew that by late in the year the new penguin exhibit – dozens of birds from four species – would be open. The zoo has seen a sharp increase in visitors since that exhibit opened in October.
    "Our November attendance was double what we budgeted because of penguins," said Julie Neemeyer, the zoo’s director of marketing.
    Won’t it be cold Monday? Yes, and Neemeyer says the zoo is ready.
    Another blast of frigid air is on its way this weekend, and Monday’s high is projected to be just 24, under sunny skies. Still, both the penguin exhibit and the popular polar bear exhibit, with Nikita and Berlin, have indoor areas. Also, the snake exhibit, the tropics building and the Discovery Barn are indoors.
    As the zoo makes additions in future years, having more things indoors will be a trend.
    "We want to be a year-round zoo," Neemeyer said.
    One example: The Tuxedo Grill is coming in 2014, hoping around Memorial Day, with 100 seats indoors and 200 seats outdoors. Plans also getting underway for a new orangutan exhibit in 2015.
    Throughout the day on Monday, the zoo has
    demonstrations and chats with the staff:
    • 9:30 a.m. – Humboldt penguins.
    • 10 a.m. – Sea Lion Splash.
    • 10:30 a.m. – Snakes keeper chat.
    • 11 a.m. – Polar bear chat.
    • 11:30 a.m. – Close Encounters of the Animal Kind, in the lobby auditorium.
    • Noon – Discovery Barn docent chat.
    • 12:30 p.m. – Wings of Wonder, in the lobby auditorium.
    • 1 p.m. – Tropics docents chat.
    • 1:30 p.m. – Sea Lion Splash.
    • 2 p.m. – Humboldt penguins.
    • 2:30 p.m. – Wings of Wonder, in the lobby auditorium.
    • 3 p.m. – Tiger keeper chat.
    • 3 p.m. – Cool Pool penguin feeding.
    • 3:30 p.m. – Sea Lion splash.
    Jackson and Cass county residents normally get in for half price – and get Friends of the Zoo memberships at a discount – thanks to the one-eighth-cent tax approved in 2010 in those two counties. There are also four free-admission days each year, and those have been well attended. The 2014 dates are all on a Tuesday: March 18, June 24, July 15 and Aug. 5.
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