TOPEKA (KSNT) – On Wednesday the Topeka Zoo hosted a press conference to release new details on its upcoming project, Giraffe & Friends.

On March 10, 2023, the Topeka Zoo & Conservation Center will open the largest habitat in its history. Giraffe & Friends will serve as the year-round home to the Reticulated Giraffe, along with the Lesser Kudu, Ostrich, Grey Crowned Crane, and Thomson’s Gazelle. The habitat will interact with the Zoo’s African safari-themed project, Camp Cowabunga, which opened in 2018.

“We know the best time to open this project is going to be March 10, 2023. That date coincides with spring break here in Topeka. It’s also the same date we opened the dinasaur exhibit last year.” Brendan Wiley, Chief Executive Officer, Topeka Zoo and Conservation Center.

“Around the end of the month, (September) we will be moving the Giraffes that are currently here to the new exhibit. Around the end of October, we will start bringing in the other animals that complete this project,” Wiley said.

(KSNT Courtesy photo/Topeka Zoo)

The Giraffes will be moving to their new home near the end of September 2022.

 The Topeka Zoo broke ground on the new Giraffe and Friends Exhibit on June 8th, 2021. 

The new Giraffe and Friends Exhibit will include a 10,000 sq. ft. modern giraffe facility, a 4,000 sq. ft. hoofstock barn that can house antelope, gazelles, and large birds, and will interact with a mixed-species three-acre outdoor habitat.

The outdoor habitat is directly south of Camp Cowabunga and will wrap around Cowabunga.

The project will have a group entry and a plaza area that will be the intersection between the Kay McFarland Japanese Garden, Camp Cowabunga, and the new giraffe project.

It was funded through $6.25 million of private donations and $1.5 million of Countywide sales tax funding.  The zoo has completed the remaining $1.3 million fundraising goal for the project.

As part of its larger Master Plan, the Topeka Zoo plans to bring new and exciting features while maintaining its foundation as a conservation-based, educational destination for families in the community.

KBS Building Contractors is the general contractor for the project.