Topeka Zoo honors former director with free admissions on Friday

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TOPEKA, Kan. (KSNT) – The Topeka Zoo is offering free admission all day on Friday to honor the last wishes of its Director Emeritus Gary K. Clarke.

The zoo will be open from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. on Friday, and there will be no admission charges for any of the visitors.

Clarke served as the Director of the Topeka Zoo and Conservatory from 1963 to 1989.

He passed away in January of 2019, with one of his last wishes being a free admission day at the zoo.

“I DO NOT, however, wish to have a public memorial service of any type. If anything, I would prefer a CELEBRATION OF LIFE symbolized by a Free Day at the Topeka Zoological Park with – and this is important – NO speeches, NO tributes, NO eulogy of any kind! This is to be an enjoyable day for families (especially children) at Topeka’s living treasure,” the wish penned by Clarke said.

The Topeka Zoo was happy to honor his wishes, and felt as though Friday would be the perfect day to do so.

“This Friday marks the first anniversary of the grand opening of Camp Cowabunga here at the zoo,” said Zoo Director Brendan Wiley. “It’s the perfect day to grant Gary’s wish.” Camp Cowabunga is a safari-themed animal exhibit at the Topeka Zoo. “It’s almost an autobiographical story of Gary’s professional life.”

A seven-minute documentary video describing Gary’s professional careers as a zoo director and safari leader will be playing throughout the day in Gary’s Tent at Camp Cowabunga. The video can also be found here.

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