Making a Difference: Tanganyika Wildlife Park’s Contributions to Our Community

Did you know that in 2023, Tanganyika donated over $41,000 to the local community, and 73 rare or endangered species were born at the park? 

Tanganyika Wildlife Park is wildly different. It’s a place where people come to create lifelong memories and have wildly different moments with people in their lives. Our mission is for those moments to inspire stewardship of animals so we can build an army of advocates that help support the preservation of rare and endangered species. 

In the 16 years Tanganyika has been open, we’ve always wanted to maintain a strong connection with our neighbors and community. This blog will highlight how Tanganyika gives back to the Greater Wichita Metro area.   

 

Tanganyika Wildlife Park’s Economic Impact

Local Employment

Tanganyika Wildlife Park is a significant local employer, providing jobs for nearly 150 people during the open season and maintaining 75 year-round employees. With over $3 million paid in wages, these earnings contribute directly to our local community. We’re also first jobs for many of our seasonal employees helping to outfit with future workforce with employable skills. 

We partner with the YMCA job prep program and WSU internship programs to introduce young people to a unique work environment. Not many young people can say they have worked at a zoo. 

We have worked to build a strong culture with many opportunities for learning and growth. Here’s what some of our employees have to say. 

Employee Testimonials:

Sam Russak, Chief of Welfare and Research: “Each day at work is a little bit different, and that’s what gets me excited to come to work every day. I might get to watch a training session, ambassador an animal, help with a vet procedure, or have a chat with guests about our tigers. There’s always at least one exciting thing happening every day! I am excited for the park to grow and change, diving deeper into our mission of inspiring stewardship by connecting animals and people through our unique experiences. I think all of our plans to expand and switch to an all-inclusive day resort model will enhance what we already do and make Tanganyika an even better destination for people to visit and love!”

Adrian Moody, Chief of Support: “My team oversees finance, HR, and volunteers, so my role is behind the scenes but impacts the park in so many ways. Seeing or hearing about that impact excites me! Walking around the park or talking to staff, I love seeing how my team helped make things happen. Some days I can’t believe all the growth the park has experienced in the last five years. Matt has been talking about his vision for years, and seeing it come to life and being part of that transformation is exhilarating! With the Day Resort, I can’t wait for team members to have more time to spend with guests and inspire them to support conservation.”

Melissa Steven, Interactive Coordinator: “I am excited to come to work every day because it offers something new and different. Each day brings unique experiences and the opportunity to see visitors’ faces light up when they feed a giraffe or have a lemur on their lap. These moments are incredibly rewarding. Looking ahead, I am particularly excited about the new additions the park is planning, especially the opportunity for guests to swim with otters. These enhancements promise to create even more memorable experiences for our visitors.”

Tourism Boost

Tanganyika Wildlife Park, the only place in the world where visitors can swim with penguins, has become a significant driver of tourism in the Wichita area. This unique experience draws visitors from across the globe, with people traveling from Africa, England, Finland, South America, and all over the United States. These visitors typically spend up to four days in the area, patronizing local restaurants and staying in nearby hotels, thus contributing to the local economy.

 

The popularity of the penguin swim experience is evident, with sessions selling out almost every weekend and most weekdays during the summer. Tanganyika saw a 60% increase in swimmers from 2021 to 2022 and another 60% growth from 2022 to 2023. In 2023, the penguin swim reached its capacity threshold, with participants from 37 states and six different countries. Over 80% of these visitors were from out of state, leading to numerous overnight stays and significant tourism revenue for the region. This adventure has become the top interactive experience at the park, highlighting its appeal and importance.

 

Additionally, just over 95% of the traffic to Tanganyika’s website comes from out-of-town visitors, demonstrating the park’s wide-reaching allure. Tanganyika Wildlife Park was also ranked among the top five tourist attractions in the state by Visit Wichita, solidifying its status as a premier destination for tourists.

Local Business Support:

Tanganyika Wildlife Park actively supports local businesses by incorporating them into its operations. Over 2023 and 2024, the park has added a range of local vendors to its retail lineup, featuring unique products from Gallery Mostaza, Twisted Serpent, Distinct Ink, Whiskey Wolf, and The Popcorner. These partnerships enhance the visitor experience and promote the talents and offerings of the local community.

 

The park’s commitment to local businesses also extends to its food and beverage offerings. Tanganyika’s cold brew coffee is sourced from Cofellow Coffee Shop on Main Street in Goddard, providing visitors with local flavor. Additionally, the park collaborates with local suppliers such as Ben E. Keith and House of Schwan to provide food for animals and guests, ensuring fresh and high-quality products.

 

Tanganyika also partners with local hotels to accommodate its out-of-town guests, offering discounted rates at Hampton Inn, Hotel at Old Town, Holiday Inn Express at the Airport, Marriott Courtyard in Old Town, and Holiday Inn Express Northwest. These partnerships help visitors find comfortable and affordable lodging while supporting the local hospitality industry.

 

Furthermore, Tanganyika prioritizes local suppliers for its operational needs, sourcing paper products and marketing materials from Midwest Single Source. By shopping locally, the park reinforces its commitment to the community, fostering a supportive network that benefits both the park and the local economy.

Philanthropic Efforts

Ticket Donations

In 2023 we donated 8 plus passes with goodie bags, 2 penguin meet and greets, and 1027 single day passes. Total value was $41,450. In addition we donated 2 stays at Hawkins Estate to larger local charities. We donate to silent auctions for PTO’s, church fundraisers, memorial tournaments, and so many more. Email donations@twpark.com with your requests. 

 

Organizational Passes

We offer organizational passes to qualifying non-profits, allowing them to provide enriching experiences for their members. Our Organizational Memberships are available to non-profits (501(c)(3)) with two options: Basic and Plus.

 

  • Organizational Pass Basic: Admission for up to five people every day of the season.
  • Organizational Pass Plus: Admission for up to five people every day of the season, plus five animal encounter feedings per person.

 

If an organization needs to accommodate more than five people in a day or wishes to have multiple passes, they can purchase additional passes. For instance, Wichita libraries each have a pass available for their patrons ro check out.

 

These passes are a wonderful resource for the organizations they serve. Beneficiaries include Homestead Health Center, Thrive Therapy, Aahn’s Place, Disability Support of the Great Plains, Wichita’s Littlest Heroes, and the Hereditary Neurological Disease Center.

 

Library Pass Programs:

Tanganyika Wildlife Park offers an innovative Library Pass Program that provides discounted passes for libraries, allowing one family to access the park and enjoy five animal feedings at no cost. To take advantage of this program, visitors must check out a pass from any participating library and enjoy a day at the park for free. 

 

As of 2024, the following libraries are participating in this program: 

  • Mulvane Public Library 
  • Derby Public Library
  • Goddard Public Library
  • Augusta Public Library
  • McConnell Air Force Library
  • Garden Plain Community Library
  • Douglass Public Library
  • Potwin Public Library
  • Wichita Public Libraries
  • Canton Township Carnegie Library
  • Bradford Memorial Library
  • Pratt Public Library.

 

Employee Discount Programs:

Tanganyika Wildlife Park strives to enhance community accessibility by collaborating with local companies and events to offer discounts for employees and attendees. Through these partnerships, we provide affordable opportunities for individuals and families to enjoy our park. 

Some of the companies, events, and organizations we partner with include Abenity, Summerball Showdown, ACE (the employee club of Sedgwick County), aircraft companies such as Learjet, Boeing, Cessna, and Spirit, the Boy Scouts of America Camp Card program, DECCA Foster Care, and Flight Safety. If you are interested in setting up a discount program for your company, please use the chat feature in the bottom right corner of this page to contact us.

 

Educational and Outreach Programs

Educational Initiatives:

Tanganyika Wildlife Park has a longstanding tradition of welcoming schools and field trips at significantly reduced rates, often at one-third or less of the daily admission prices. 

Although field trips will be limited in 2025, the park will continue to offer its Zoo to You programs. These programs directly bring the zoo experience to schools, featuring engaging assemblies with animals like sloths, penguins, and more. This approach eliminates the logistical challenges of coordinating parent chaperones, transportation, and packed lunches. Schools interested in these programs can contact our Sales team for more information.

While education often brings children and schools to mind, Tanganyika Wildlife Park embraces a broader conservation vision through individual engagement. We believe close encounters with animals are more likely to inspire stewardship and a deeper appreciation for wildlife than distant observation. Therefore, we consider every visitor interaction at the park an educational opportunity, fostering a commitment to conservation one person at a time.

Community Workshops and Events:

Each year, Tanganyika Wildlife Park hosts a Cheetah Conservation Night, inviting representatives from Action For Cheetahs Kenya to share updates and insights about cheetah conservation efforts. On these evenings, we also collaborate with Kansas Search and Rescue Dogs to demonstrate how scent detection dogs work, providing attendees with a unique and educational experience. These events offer a rare opportunity to learn about and interact with cheetahs up close. We are enthusiastic about expanding and offering more programs like this in the future, fostering community engagement and raising awareness about wildlife conservation.

 

Conservation and Environmental Impact

cute baby snow leapords

Conservation Efforts:

When most people think about conservation, they often envision sending money to Africa to help save rhinos in the Serengeti. At Tanganyika Wildlife Park, we believe in conservation one person at a time. By creating memorable experiences that connect people with animals, we inspire behavior changes that contribute to saving wildlife.

Our second major contribution to conservation is through breeding rare and endangered species. For example, our clouded leopard program is responsible for over 50% of the genetic diversity in the global population under human care. Another recent success story is MarJon, the Indian Rhino. 

Additionally, we have successfully bred over eight critically endangered Mountain Bongos. Tanganyika works with 13 different managed breeding programs to maintain healthy genetics and robust populations of various species in human care. We are also one of the few facilities to house Javan Langurs and Red-faced Spider Monkeys, actively working to establish healthy breeding populations for these species.

That said, we do still contribute financially to conservation efforts. We have funded the construction of nest boxes for African Penguins and supported rangers in Africa who patrol wildlife reserves to protect against poachers. We also support the Kalaweit Foundation, which protects forests, rehabilitates victims of animal trafficking, and supports the local Indonesian community. For a full list of our conservation partners, click here.

Sustainability Practices:

Tanganyika Wildlife Park is deeply committed to sustainability and has implemented numerous practices to minimize our environmental footprint. We have eliminated straws, plastic lids, and plastic bags from the park and have placed recycling bins throughout the area. Additionally, we creatively reuse paper products for animal enrichment.

To reduce freight and shipping impacts, we shop locally whenever possible. Our gift shop features sustainable vendors and fair trade artisans, such as Project Lydia and Cool Crafts for Cheetahs, which employ African artisans to produce unique keepsakes. We also work with Conscious Step, a vendor that makes cute animal socks and donates a percentage of the proceeds to animal-supporting organizations. Furthermore, 90% of the plush toys in our gift shop are made from recycled materials.

Our dedication to sustainability and conservation has earned us three awards from the Zoological Association of America (ZAA) for significant propagation and long-term commitment to single species:

  • 2021: Snow Leopards
  • 2018: Clouded Leopards
  • 2017: Reticulated Giraffes

These accolades highlight our ongoing efforts to protect and conserve endangered species.

Discounted Ticket Days and Accessibility

Discount Programs:

In addition to donating tickets, offering organizational memberships, and partnering with libraries, Tanganyika Wildlife Park has consistently found ways to collaborate with local organizations and provide discounted days to make the park more accessible to the entire Wichita community.

We participated in the Sunflower Summer program in 2023 and 2024, offering free admission to Kansas families with school-age children. We’ve also partnered with organizations like Credit Union of America to offer reduced admission for their members. Additionally, we have provided free admission to moms on Mother’s Day, offered discounts to first responders, and celebrated our birthday annually with steep discounts on admission.

 

Community Testimonials and Stories

Personal Stories:

Season pass members have shared heartfelt personal stories about their experiences at Tanganyika Wildlife Park, highlighting the positive impact the park has had on their lives. These stories often emphasize the memorable encounters with animals, the educational value for their families, and the sense of community they feel as part of the Tanganyika family. Their testimonials serve as a testament to the park’s commitment to fostering meaningful connections between people and wildlife.

Shirley and her husband, who have been silver members for the past two years, love Tanganyika for its accessibility and the unique opportunity to interact closely with the animals. As senior adults, they appreciate the stress-free adventures and the joy the park brings to their grandchildren during visits. Shirley emphasizes the friendly and knowledgeable staff, and the unforgettable experience of petting kangaroos and feeding lemurs, which have made Tanganyika a special place for her family.

Amber, a first-year member who has supported Tanganyika Wildlife Park since its opening, cherishes the numerous interactions available, from feeding animals to swimming with penguins. Her family especially enjoys petting kangaroos and feeding giraffes. Amber appreciates the welcoming atmosphere and the friendly employees, noting that each visit offers a unique experience. For her, Tanganyika provides a beautiful place to see their favorite animals and enjoy fun-filled days multiple times a month.

Rebecca, a member for four years, finds Tanganyika to be a sanctuary for her autistic son. Since he was three years old, the park has been a place where he feels comfortable and can enjoy his favorite animals, like giraffes and lions, without getting overstimulated. Rebecca values the Gold Pass benefits and the Cub Club, which they attend almost every Wednesday. She praises the staff for their willingness to share facts and explain things to her son, making their visits even more special. Tanganyika has provided a safe space for her son and peace of mind for her, significantly impacting their family.

Reviews

“Neat and different, enjoyed my experience, I plan to be back next time I’m in town! Not like other zoos!”- Amanda W.

 

“We discovered Tanganyika in 2021 when a road trip brought us through Wichita. Since then we’ve driven 650 miles 3 times to come back with my grandsons. Best zoo ever! The animal encounters are amazing — not just animals doing tricks, they are super educational as well as absolutely enchanting. The meet & greets are amazing too, if you can swing them. We did the otter encounter this time.”- Google User: JustKat2011

 

“My wife and drove 20 hours from upstate New York for an ultimate weekend and it was definitely Worth it. The staff was friendly, knowledge, and clearly love and care for the animals. The experiences are one of kind (swimming with penguins, meet and greets with many different animals, there is nothing you won’t see)! We especially loved our penguin swim and our origins tour.”- Google User:teebzz

 

“We are from the KC metro and I have been to numerous zoos, petting zoos, wildlife parks, etc…in major cities throughout the country. I have NEVER experienced anything like this. It was amazing! It was worth every penny and I will be highly recommending it to my friends. This is a clean, efficient, effective and friendly park. It was very easy to get to and honestly way better than I ever imagined. We never waited in line and people were so friendly and engaging…This was one of my favorite travel attractions to date! Highly recommend a trip to Goddard!”- Kay B

 

“For the last 2 years I’ve bought the season pass because this park is already great and keeps getting better. Beautiful setting and exhibits and friendly staff. Can see a wide variety of animals in a well laid out park.” -Google User: U4673GOjh

 

Organizational Testimonials:

Many organizations that have memberships with Tanganyika learned about the passes from other libraries or patrons who suggested them. Some inquired about the passes when launching their Library’s Community Explorer Packs to local venues. Others were aware of the passes through their roles managing Discovery Passes at their libraries.

The passes are used in various ways. Patrons can check them out like a book and keep them for three days. They are part of educational programming and loaned out as part of Community Explorer Packs, allowing patrons to take their family and friends on unique excursions that might otherwise be out of reach. These packs come with an information guide listing additional local points of interest and books on zoo and animal topics.

Patrons reserve a checkout time and date, pick up the membership packet, visit Tanganyika, and return the packet afterward. Although there were no specific stories shared, patrons consistently express their gratitude and enjoyment of the park. Youngsters particularly love feeding the animals, and the high demand for the passes indicates their popularity.

One organization highlighted that the passes are especially valuable in rural areas with large families who usually cannot afford such outings. The passes enable these families to enjoy a fun day at the park without significant financial burden.

The organizations appreciate Tanganyika for its smaller size, which allows visitors to get closer to the animals than at a regular zoo. They also praise the park as a first-rate facility conveniently located west of Wichita, making it accessible for those in Central and Western Kansas. The hands-on animal adventures and interactions are among their favorite aspects of Tanganyika.

Conclusion

Known for creating memorable moments and inspiring stewardship of animals, the park has maintained a strong community connection over its 16 years. This blog highlights Tanganyika’s contributions to the Greater Wichita Metro area. Tanganyika employs nearly 150 seasonal and 75 year-round staff, paying over $3 million in wages that boost the local economy. 

Employee testimonials reveal the excitement and fulfillment staff experience through their diverse roles and the park’s growth plans. The park’s unique penguin swim experience draws global visitors, significantly boosting local tourism. In 2023, participants from 37 states and six countries contributed to the local economy by patronizing restaurants and hotels. 

The park’s popularity is further evidenced by a 60% increase in penguin swimmers from the previous year and its ranking among Kansas’ top five tourist attractions. Tanganyika supports local businesses by incorporating local vendors and sourcing food and beverage supplies locally. Partnerships with area hotels provide discounted lodging for out-of-town visitors, reinforcing the park’s commitment to the community. 

 

Stay connected with Tanganyika Wildlife Park and be the first to know about our latest events, special offers, and conservation efforts! Follow us on social media for exciting updates and behind-the-scenes content. Don’t miss out—sign up for our email list today and join our community dedicated to creating unforgettable memories and supporting wildlife conservation. Follow us on Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, and YouTube!

 

We are strongly connected to the local community and want Wichita to be proud to join us in serving the community as we continue to lean in to what makes us unique, wildly different animal experiences. This means that we’ll continue to find creative ways to make the park accessible to Wichita as we unveil the all inclusive model of 2025. 

We’ll also be supporting the Wichita community by bringing needed tourism dollars to our town. Wichita is an amazing place to live and Kansas is NOT just a flyover state. Let’s Tell the World about the unique and wildly different things available in our town. 

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