A hope for the Sedgwick County Zoo


Photo by Averie Stull

This picture taken at the Amphibians and Reptiles exhibit at the Sedgwick County Zoo showcases a frog and snake resting together in their enclosure. Their entire habitat is the white walls and fake plants shown in the image.

Throughout the year, many people enjoy gathering the family together for a fun day at the Sedgwick County Zoo. It’s an interesting and exciting place, showcasing animals from around the world. Besides the animals, the zoo also has very nicely designed and decorated areas as well. The overall experience most get from the zoo is positive. I share this experience; however, there is something I’ve recently noticed at the Sedgwick County Zoo that really upset me and got me thinking about some of the animals. 

The amphibians and reptiles building was first built in 1974 as the Herpetarium, though it was later changed to be the exhibit we know today. The Sedgwick County Zoo’s website states little about the exhibit, only mentioning that they have a variety of amphibians and reptiles. What they don’t state is that their habitats for most of the animals in this building are made up of plastic. When visiting, I noticed that the majority of the habitats these creatures were living in were just water, rocks, and fake plastic plants. Pairing this with the plain white walls of the enclosures just makes their living space seem like a small white box with plastic and water. Living creatures should not have to live in this environment.

 While doing research, I found that these enclosures do in fact meet the basic requirements for amphibian and reptile housing, according to the Association of Zoos and Aquariums. These requirements also state that “while some amphibian species might survive in a minimal enclosure such as a plastic box with paper towel and a hide box, it is important to consider other aspects of the health and wellbeing that can be addressed through proper housing, substrate, and refugia.” So, while these animals are surviving, I think they could be thriving in better habitat conditions. They deserve to live in a natural environment. 

While further researching the topic, I found out that the zoo actually has a plan to renovate all of the old exhibits. They didn’t specifically say anything about the Amphibians and Reptiles exhibit, though. I understand that having real plants in every exhibit would increase employees’ workload, and the zoo might not have all of the helping hands to do that. However, if they cannot properly care for these animals, they should not have them. I think the zoo needs to either give their animals the proper living space, or get rid of them. Of course, the latter would be a worst case scenario. These animals have been an exhibit at the zoo for years and years, and having to get rid of them would cause a lot of problems for the zoo. Overall, my biggest hope is that the Sedgwick County Zoo includes the Amphibians and Reptiles exhibit in their future renovations and provides more suitable enclosures for the animals.