Fixing the KC Zoo (ongoing)

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Re: Fixing the KC Zoo (ongoing)

Post by KCPowercat » Wed Nov 09, 2011 11:50 am

Not going to the zoo because of highway access? are you kidding? I can see how that helps say a shopping strip center but its not like there is another zoo....if your kids want to see elephants you say no because of the exit ramp?

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Re: Fixing the KC Zoo (ongoing)

Post by NDTeve » Wed Nov 09, 2011 12:07 pm

KCMax wrote:Good lord, if any suburbanites are scared of driving to/through Swope Park, they should put their diapers back on and suck their thumbs.

They do need to improve the intersection outside Swope Park - it can be a clusterf--- at times. I guess more of when there is an event at Starlight or the Ethnic Festival.
Agreed...dumb how they make you turn right then you have to make a u-turn in the Parks Department Driveway to go West leaving Starlight

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Re: Fixing the KC Zoo (ongoing)

Post by chrizow » Wed Nov 09, 2011 12:31 pm

KCPowercat wrote:Not going to the zoo because of highway access? are you kidding? I can see how that helps say a shopping strip center but its not like there is another zoo....if your kids want to see elephants you say no because of the exit ramp?
wtf? it's like a mile off 435? so rural or suburban families are willing to drive 15+ miles to go to the zoo, but that 1 mile of travel from the highway is just too much? give me a break. show me any zoo in the country with highway/outer road access and visibility.

and anyone who is afraid of crime in swope park is a freaking pansy, there is just no way around that. i have hung out in and driven through Swope Park for my entire conscious lifetime and have never once seen anything weird or felt threatened in any way. sure, it might be near the "black" part of town, but for god's sakes it's a 1805-acre FOREST!!!! you are statistically thousands of times more likely to kill yourself in a car accident driving through Swope Park than being shot by some ne'er do well. anyone this paranoid about life needs to not have kids.

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Re: Fixing the KC Zoo (ongoing)

Post by FangKC » Wed Nov 09, 2011 12:40 pm

It's also right off 71 Highway.

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Re: Fixing the KC Zoo (ongoing)

Post by GRID » Wed Nov 09, 2011 12:41 pm

You have got to be kidding me. It's right off 435, 350 and 71 and 63rd is basically a highway between swope park and 435. Seriously???
Last edited by GRID on Wed Nov 09, 2011 12:49 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Fixing the KC Zoo (ongoing)

Post by FangKC » Wed Nov 09, 2011 12:44 pm

I don't think highway access is really the problem. I hear more people complain about the exhibits being too far apart and having too walk so far between them.

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Re: Fixing the KC Zoo (ongoing)

Post by GRID » Wed Nov 09, 2011 12:53 pm

FangKC wrote:I don't think highway access is really the problem. I hear more people complain about the exhibits being too far apart and having too walk so far between them.
While I LOVE the african portion of the zoo. They do really need to fill in the zoo. There is way too much dead, under utilized space when walking from one exhibit to the next.

Hopefully they can fill some of that in with the new money. How about a real train too or even ditch the train and bring in double decker tour buses to move people around the zoo like what San Diego has.

People are afraid of the zoo because they think it's in a bad part of town. The area around swope park is not bad at all though.

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Re: Fixing the KC Zoo (ongoing)

Post by chingon » Wed Nov 09, 2011 2:39 pm

GRID wrote:People are afraid of the zoo because they think it's in a bad part of town. The area around swope park is not bad at all though.
The area to the west of Swope is pretty rough, by any 1st world standard.

There are (a few) worse neighborhoods in KC, but it's pretty bombed out down there.

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Re: Fixing the KC Zoo (ongoing)

Post by Highlander » Wed Nov 09, 2011 2:40 pm

GRID wrote:
FangKC wrote:I don't think highway access is really the problem. I hear more people complain about the exhibits being too far apart and having too walk so far between them.
While I LOVE the african portion of the zoo. They do really need to fill in the zoo. There is way too much dead, under utilized space when walking from one exhibit to the next.

Hopefully they can fill some of that in with the new money. How about a real train too or even ditch the train and bring in double decker tour buses to move people around the zoo like what San Diego has.

People are afraid of the zoo because they think it's in a bad part of town. The area around swope park is not bad at all though.

This really is the crux for the zoo, it's like 3 zoo's connected by long walking paths with little in between. The new director (although not new any more) has corrected some of the well intentioned but poorly thought through problems associated with the 90's expansion such as the entrance issue (too difficult to get from parking to entrance and no animals anywhere near entrance) and by creating a shortcut to Africa. The Australia exhibit might as well be in Australia, we skip it half the time we are there due to time shortages. As an avid walker in good shape, I am always a bit tired after a full day at the zoo so I can imagine how the average overweight midwesterner is going to feel after a summer day with a brutal sun beating down.

As for approaching the zoo, the security risk of Swope Park is one of KC's great urban myths. If you wanted to mug or carjack somebody, you don't go hang out in a forest. I can see a surbubanite being a little concerned about approaching the Zoo from 71 highway and Gregory, there have been well publicized shooting along 71 highway in the last couple of years but almost all of that is at night and it's still pretty rare. But 435 to Gregory or Blue River Road poses absolutely no threat (except dying from a pothole induced accident on BRR) and they are both really pretty drives (save the condition Blue River Road has been in lately...is it still closed?).

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Re: Fixing the KC Zoo (ongoing)

Post by Highlander » Wed Nov 09, 2011 2:42 pm

chingon wrote:
GRID wrote:People are afraid of the zoo because they think it's in a bad part of town. The area around swope park is not bad at all though.
The area to the west of Swope is pretty rough, by any 1st world standard.

There are (a few) worse neighborhoods in KC, but it's pretty bombed out down there.
Yea, the area just south of Gregory is in pretty bad shape. Stay on Gregory I think you are OK but that area to the south is indeed rough.

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Re: Fixing the KC Zoo (ongoing)

Post by chingon » Wed Nov 09, 2011 2:50 pm

South of Gregory looks worse, North of Gregory is actually more dangerous, from the lower 50's to 75th, anything east of Paseo, but especially the area between 71 and Swope PKWY.

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Re: Fixing the KC Zoo (ongoing)

Post by GRID » Wed Nov 09, 2011 2:58 pm

When I go to the Zoo, 99.9% of the time it's Hwy 71 to Meyer, a quick drive through a residential area (that looks far from being bombed out ghetto) to the main entrance of swope park. If I come from 435, it's generally via 63, which feels more like a light industrial area / undeveloped than rough urban area I should be scared in. I rarely used gregory, but if I did, it was from 435 and you really don't get the impression you will be jacked, at least I don't. The Zoo is close to rough areas. So is the plaza, crown center and downtown and even the sports complex.

63rd between Brookside and Swope pwky leaves a lot to be desired if coming from that way, but I still don't feel threatened or anything.

My point is that driving to the zoo is not a problem. If you get lost, I guess you could have issues.
Last edited by GRID on Wed Nov 09, 2011 3:23 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Fixing the KC Zoo (ongoing)

Post by chrizow » Wed Nov 09, 2011 3:03 pm

even if the main thoroughfares heading to the Zoo were a "bombed out ghetto," this doesn't change the fact that thousands of people drive through there every single day without incident. indeed, i have yet to find many areas of KC that actually feel threatening to drive through. it's not like there are just cars full of thugs looking for some family from lenexa in a minivan to rob and shoot. in the past few years there have been a couple of incidents of people being hit by stray bullets near 71, but those are truly random, freak one in a million occurrences - not the kind of risk people should plan their lives around. if a suburban or rural family won't take their kids to the zoo b/c they have to drive five minutes through a working class black neighborhood, that is just pathetic and shows absolutely no grasp of reality and risk.

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Re: Fixing the KC Zoo (ongoing)

Post by KC-wildcat » Wed Nov 09, 2011 3:13 pm

I don't know if perceived danger is really at the heart of the issue.

Back in the 90s, when Africa opened, Zoo attendance topped 700,000. And, as we recall, there were a few issues with gang violence and race riots in the 90s.

Bottom line, if this Zoo can bring 700K into the ghetto in 1995 (with no financing), this Zoo should easily bring +1million into the ghetto in 2012 (with financing).

Make the zoo great. use the money wisely. people will come. it's about the animals and the experience. not the shitty houses.

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Re: Fixing the KC Zoo (ongoing)

Post by GRID » Wed Nov 09, 2011 3:26 pm

KC-wildcat wrote:I don't know if perceived danger is really at the heart of the issue.

Back in the 90s, when Africa opened, Zoo attendance topped 700,000. And, as we recall, there were a few issues with gang violence and race riots in the 90s.

Bottom line, if this Zoo can bring 700K into the ghetto in 1995 (with no financing), this Zoo should easily bring +1million into the ghetto in 2012 (with financing).

Make the zoo great. use the money wisely. people will come. it's about the animals and the experience. not the shitty houses.
Not to be nitpicky, but the african exhibit wasn't free. It was financed with a short term kcmo sales tax. It was a pretty big chunk of change if I remember correctly. But your point is valid. Put money into the zoo and people will come.
Last edited by GRID on Wed Nov 09, 2011 3:27 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Fixing the KC Zoo (ongoing)

Post by KCMax » Wed Nov 09, 2011 3:27 pm

I always thought the neighorhood west of Swope, between Swope and 71 was kind of a "working class" African-American neighborhood. It seems like its kept up in pretty good shape and some of the houses are quite lovely. I never really got the impression it was the "hood."

Now, west of 71, past Research Med, can get pretty dicey in some areas. But even those areas aren't the worst you can find in KC.

The zoo itself is pretty spread out and I think you can fix it just by having small exhibits, or heck, more point of sale gimmicks along the way - food carts, vending machines, merchandise carts, games, interactive video exhibits, etc. I'd actually like to see the money go towards big exhibits that get people excited like the polar bear exhibit. And try to get some exhibits that give you a really cool vantage point - some of the best zoos I've enjoyed having you walking through clear tunnels right by the animals. Its frustrating that a lot of the exhibits have you really far away while the animal sleeps in the far corner where you can't see them.

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Re: Fixing the KC Zoo (ongoing)

Post by GRID » Wed Nov 09, 2011 3:28 pm

KCMax wrote:I always thought the neighorhood west of Swope, between Swope and 71 was kind of a "working class" African-American neighborhood. It seems like its kept up in pretty good shape and some of the houses are quite lovely. I never really got the impression it was the "hood."

Now, west of 71, past Research Med, can get pretty dicey in some areas. But even those areas aren't the worst you can find in KC.
That's what I was thinking too. I was starting to think I was crazy. The commerical corridors in the area are trashed. 63rd, Prospect etc. That's what people see.

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Re: Fixing the KC Zoo (ongoing)

Post by Highlander » Wed Nov 09, 2011 4:04 pm

GRID wrote: Not to be nitpicky, but the african exhibit wasn't free. It was financed with a short term kcmo sales tax. It was a pretty big chunk of change if I remember correctly. But your point is valid. Put money into the zoo and people will come.
I beleive the price tag for Africa, Australia and the Children's zoo renovation was 65 million dollars (which also included the entrance). Much of the money spent since that time has gone towards correcting mistakes in that plan (shortcut to Africa and redoing the entrance) although they've added some pretty good exhibits since that time at the Tropical House and the Polar Bears/otters.

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Re: Fixing the KC Zoo (ongoing)

Post by GRID » Wed Nov 09, 2011 4:33 pm

Highlander wrote:
GRID wrote: Not to be nitpicky, but the african exhibit wasn't free. It was financed with a short term kcmo sales tax. It was a pretty big chunk of change if I remember correctly. But your point is valid. Put money into the zoo and people will come.
I beleive the price tag for Africa, Australia and the Children's zoo renovation was 65 million dollars (which also included the entrance). Much of the money spent since that time has gone towards correcting mistakes in that plan (shortcut to Africa and redoing the entrance) although they've added some pretty good exhibits since that time at the Tropical House and the Polar Bears/otters.
It's too bad they couldn't keep the imax, that was a pretty big waste. Not sure why that never really caught on, seems like a perfect fit, but I guess not.

I thought the polar bears and new entrance was funded by the fotz or was it anther tax as well? Regardless, it's about time the zoo had a permanent funding source. It's the main reason why it has struggled along with other area attractions like union station and the science city.

These types of attractions are simply not self sufficient on ticket sales and memberships alone, not if you want them to be first class anyway.

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Re: Fixing the KC Zoo (ongoing)

Post by Highlander » Wed Nov 09, 2011 5:12 pm

GRID wrote:
Highlander wrote:
GRID wrote: Not to be nitpicky, but the african exhibit wasn't free. It was financed with a short term kcmo sales tax. It was a pretty big chunk of change if I remember correctly. But your point is valid. Put money into the zoo and people will come.
I beleive the price tag for Africa, Australia and the Children's zoo renovation was 65 million dollars (which also included the entrance). Much of the money spent since that time has gone towards correcting mistakes in that plan (shortcut to Africa and redoing the entrance) although they've added some pretty good exhibits since that time at the Tropical House and the Polar Bears/otters.
It's too bad they couldn't keep the imax, that was a pretty big waste. Not sure why that never really caught on, seems like a perfect fit, but I guess not.

I thought the polar bears and new entrance was funded by the fotz or was it anther tax as well? Regardless, it's about time the zoo had a permanent funding source. It's the main reason why it has struggled along with other area attractions like union station and the science city.

These types of attractions are simply not self sufficient on ticket sales and memberships alone, not if you want them to be first class anyway.
I believe the Polar Bear exhibit was privately funded.

The IMAX was great. We were disappointed to see it go. We had taken the kids there many times and it was a nice break from 90 d heat in the summer.

Funding the zoo is always going to be an issue in a metro split between two states, with large concentration of the wealth in the other state. Zoo's and museums can't be world class and exists only off gate proceeds. That might be possible in a few high tourist communities but not KC. There just isn't enough repeat business to make that work. To most people, if you saw it in May, there's no point in seeing it again in June or July. Movie theaters replace the movies when they get stale, zoos and museums offer essentially the same product year after year. They need either a deep pocketed endowment or subsidy to be worthwhile.

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