Tanganyika Wildlife Park

Forget We Bought A Zoo!  This family built one from the ground up.  Learn more about the fascinating origins of Tanganyika and how we built a world-class collection of animals.

Our Origin Story

It all started for Jim Fouts as a boy when his grandfather gave him a San Diego Zoo guide book. Jim became fascinated with animals at a young age and would ultimately get his start in the animal world as a keeper in1972 at the Sedgwick County Zoo (SCZ). He was hired as a night keeper at the farms overseeing chickens, goats, and cows.

Shortly after Jim had started at the SCZ, Jim dreamed of having his own collection of animals. He settled on rare doves and pheasants because they were beautiful and frankly easier to aquire than rhinos or okapis. Working at SCZ was helping him gain animal experience, but he would need to expand his network if he was going to find the birds he desired. So, he began to attend Association of Zoos & Aquariums (AZA) conferences and bird association conferences where he met many new people.

After 5 ½ years of working at the zoo and expanding his network of professional zoo contacts, Jim chose to devote his time to breeding birds. Shortly after leaving, a colleague had mentioned an import company that needed someone with animal experience to care for animals that were being shipped from Bolivia. Jim traveled to Bolivia where he lived for two years caring for animals that were in quarantine and being prepared to ship. During that time, he learned the import process and established new sources for rare birds. 

Jim Fouts on Safari in Africa
Sherri Fouts with a Lenny the Leopard Cub
Matt Fouts with a Lenny the Leopard Cub

Having conquered South America at 28 years old, Jim set his sights on Africa. After a few successful trips to Africa, Jim and his wife, Sherri purchased USDA Quarantine Facility in California. Their initial success in Africa led to more orders from major zoos across the country. As a result, they started importing birds from all over the world. 

In just 10 years, Jim had become one of the country’s leading importers for rare birds. He was the “go to” person for most of the top zoos in the country. But he still had bigger dreams. He wanted to build a world-class breeding facility in the United States.

In 1985, they bought five acres in Goddard, built their first barn and the home of Tanganyika was established. By 1987, they built a second building for tigers. Jim acquired a pure white female named, Shubra, and a male named, Benny, who was the last live mascot for the Cincinnati Bengals football team. Two years later, Benny and Shubra had their first pair of kittens and Tanganyika established itself as a breeding facility which to this day is extremely important in the zoo world.

In 2000, they started doing guided tours through their backyard. The first version of the guided tour would take about an hour and guests would see seven species of animals. They offered giraffe feeding and lemur feeding through the fence, and that is when they realized just how much they could strengthen the connection between people and the natural world through interactive experiences.

By 2004, over 4,000 people were visiting the park despite having very few amenities and no parking lot. At that time, Jim and Sherri, along with their son, Matt, decided to expand. However, they knew for it to be successful, it would have to be a world-class facility. They took a portion of the 51 acres and constructed a zoo from the ground up. Some of you may have seen the movie We Bought A Zoo with Matt Damon, well they BUILT a zoo from the ground up!

Over the past eight years, we have grown into the third largest animal collection in Kansas, and one of the largest attractions in the state.

On August 2 of 2008 Tanganyika Wildlife Park officially opened with 15 exhibits and three interactive areas. Over the past eight years, we have grown into the third largest animal collection in Kansas, and one of the largest attractions in the state. We have over 40 exhibits featuring 10 interactive stations, over 400 animals and 37 successful breeding programs. 

Our family-owned facility right here in Goddard, KS continues to be a world leader in breeding rare and endangered species. 

The Fouts family has built one of the largest, family-owned zoos in the country from nothing. They didn’t receive any government funds or grants to build it. They did it with hard work, dedication and passion to be stewards for animals in their care and in the wild. They did it with the support of visitors like you.

See What People Are Saying About Us!

Tanganyika Wildlife Park
4.8
Based on 1115 reviews
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John Lee
John Lee
20:49 14 Oct 20
This place is wonderful! A ton to see and you aren’t walking miles. Good facilities for animals and people at a great price. Paying a bit extra to get an encounter with a sloth was completely worth it! Up close to the animals and learning while having fun. Will definitely go back.read more
Apple Crisp
Apple Crisp
00:17 06 Oct 20
Had so much fun at Tanganyika; kids and adults alike! The staff was friendly and enthusiastic. The park was clean and beautiful with a variety of animals that kept us entertained. We offered the splash park to the kids toward the end of the day, but they wanted more time with the animals. We will definitely be back!read more
Josie Purvis
Josie Purvis
15:14 04 Oct 20
I absolutely loved my time at Tanganyika! Lots of cool animals to see and learn about for sure. I was hoping to see some lions, which they did not have, but they did have a few other big cats. Loved the nursery area and the monkeys!! The sloths and penguins were also really fun!read more
Rebekah Holbert
Rebekah Holbert
17:09 29 Sep 20
Our visit to Tanganyika’s Wildlife Park was outstanding! The animals looked happy and well kept. The staff was friendly and helpful. We had a Behind the Scenes Sloth experience and the keeper of sloths was friendly, outgoing, knowledgeable and loved to share and keep learning. So awesome and I would recommend to anyone!!read more
Shanda Strickland
Shanda Strickland
18:26 28 Sep 20
This place is absolutely AMAZING!! So much more than any zoo I have ever been to for a fraction of the cost. Fun was had by all of us from the adults to the 11 year old to the toddlers. Experiences that we have never gotten and will forever remember. So many memories were made during our trip. Thank you Tanganyika for being awesome!!read more
Kim McCluer
Kim McCluer
15:08 27 Sep 20
Great place, options for interactions are many. Interactions are a bit expensive, but worth it! My only complaint is that some of the interactions have been tamed down since my last visit a few years ago, not sure if COVID related or just to speed up the process. Otherwise a great morning spent in a well kept facility!read more
BJ Lehecka
BJ Lehecka
11:52 27 Sep 20
You can feed giraffes, tortoises, rabbits, lorikeets, lemurs, and more at this interactive zoo. It’s notably smaller than the Sedgwick County Zoo, but it’s home to several unique animals including white tigers, baby leopards, and kangaroos. It has a playground and splash pad near the exit of the penguin exhibit for the kiddos too.read more
Amanda Wilson
Amanda Wilson
14:15 23 Sep 20
I absolutely love this zoo. The enrichment experiences, their new splash pad is amazing, they have interactive story time/activity hours for little ones. Its everything you could want in a zoo and moreread more
Anthony E
Anthony E
18:39 20 Sep 20
beautiful zoo well organized, I just found the animals with a sad face.
Robin Mcelroy
Robin Mcelroy
00:53 16 Sep 20
Best coolest day . I got the unlimited pass ,got to feed the giraffe , lemurs and the birds hang with kangaroos and goats and an alpaca and so much more .missed out on hippo feeding due to feeding the giraffe .no camel ride because of covid .I would do it again a hundred times moreread more
Monica McKay
Monica McKay
22:14 05 Sep 20
Very interactive and user friendly. We did some of the optional activities. We had a great time!
JD Kirk
JD Kirk
21:19 03 Sep 20
I had a blasted at the new water park with the girls. It’s a nice “little” setup! Perfect for small events!
Pam Hilton
Pam Hilton
16:22 02 Sep 20
The new Splash Park is AMAZING!! I took my granddaughters yesterday (September 1) they had so much fun. Plus we got to see all of the animals. What a wonderful day!!!read more
Sarah Munkres
Sarah Munkres
17:41 30 Aug 20
Always a blast!! Season pass highly recommended with a feeding frenzy!!
Billy Nester
Billy Nester
23:26 24 Aug 20
Tanganyika is one of the best unique experiences here in the Wichita area! We purchase memberships for each of the members in our family, along with also attending the Tanganyika Twilight Tour each year. Whether you’re looking for a nice half day visit or planning an important milestone event, this place will deliver above and beyond! Matt and his team truly have an extraordinary venue! Did I mention you can even tie the knot here?! We did and it will forever be one of our “seven wonders of the world”!read more
Jose J Sanchez
Jose J Sanchez
15:13 23 Aug 20
I do not even know where to begin! We did the unlimited pass and were very very happy about our choice. We got there from 0800 and left at 1500! We did As many animal encounters as possible as well! This is such an amazing park and so interactive !!!!! My child loved it head!!!! I will definitely be coming back!!!! I would take this place over the zoo any day.The park wasn’t overly crowded and it is very laid out and organized that while you wait for your encounters or other animal feeding times you can do other things! I have no words except you have to experience it for yourself ! We are a military family and pretty well traveled and this by far has been one of my favorite places to visit that i will never forgetread more
Melissa Kimble
Melissa Kimble
15:16 08 Aug 20
This place is AMAZING!! I’ve always loved penguins and getting to touch and interact with one was a dream come true. The Unlimited Encounter Pass was great as we got to touch and feed so many animals over and over-especially the lemurs! For a tactile person that LOVES animals, this place is the best. Everyone working there was so nice and helpful and everything was clean and well cared for. The only suggestion I have that could make this park even MORE amazing would be to offer some vegan food choices in the dining area.read more
Meredith Becker
Meredith Becker
03:21 03 Aug 20
I appreciate how responsive staff is to suggestions and how great the park is cared for. We got to see a baby kangaroo and learn several facts and I got to pet a rhino! I highly recommend this place. My kids love it.My only 2 suggestions would be to have 2 separate lines for members and guests to make entry go quicker for those just needing a quick scan and to provide lids for drinks purchased at coffee shop..which was one of the best tasting iced coffees I have gotten, and reasonably priced too! Just didn’t want to spill it while pushing a stroller.read more
Suzanne Battershell
Suzanne Battershell
15:58 29 Jul 20
BEST ZOO EVER! We visit every time we come see Mom! I just love this place. Plus, they are building a new water play area for the kids! It looks AMAZING! I can’t wait to bring my kids back! The early admission is so worth the extra $10 per person, too. The animals were super active and the park wasn’t busy at all. It was really nice.read more
Kimberly Barb
Kimberly Barb
17:48 22 Jul 20
I took my two children to visit this last time. It was so much fun!!! We had the opportunity to feed the penguins for an extra fee, but what a cool experience. I even joined the kids since I had never done it. They also fed the lemurs, hippo, giraffe and bunnies. There were misters to walk through to cool off which was nice on a hot day. We had a great day enjoying the park and can’t wait for the water park to open.read more
Bob Webster
Bob Webster
16:14 10 Jul 20
Very Well put together animal habitat. I really enjoyed all the foliage and plant life. Most Zoo’s feel wide open and barren. The park here is covered with trees and tall bamboo looking plants. Very pretty. Every one who works here was extremely helpful and friendly. The shaved ice guy was super nice. We will definitely put to use our season passes!read more
Glenda Fox
Glenda Fox
22:21 23 Jun 20
Very nice wildlife park! Was really wanting to engage with the Lemar’s but, I guess, you had to have an appointment to do so. One of my favorite things was the baby ducks that came up to you when you were getting food out of the “gumball” machine. All of them would eat right out of your hand! Then there was the turtle that came out of the water to get a piece of the food. Love unexpected experiences like that. The throaty roar of the white tiger was breathtaking, almost like he was roaring into a megaphone! This park is so well kept and I always enjoy bringing my grandchildren! Can’t wait until the splash park is complete!!read more
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