KC Zoo director hopes to keep momentum going after penguin exhibit opening

KANSAS CITY, Mo. - More than nine-thousand people came out on Friday for the opening of the new Helzberg Penguin Plaza exhibit at the Kansas City Zoo. The zoo saw another seven-thousand people on Saturday.  Now the zoo is looking for ways to keep the momentum going.

Zoo Director Randy Wisthoff knew the penguin exhibit looked good on paper, but never imagined how amazing it would look once it was built.

"To be honest, this is exceeding my expectations," Wisthoff said.

Since taking over as zoo director 10 years ago, his job is more than just building exhibits.

"The first time we balanced the budget in 2004 was extremely rewarding because it hadn't been done in a while," Wisthoff said.

After the books, he started at the front gate during the zoo expansion in 2005, and also included the shortcut to Africa. But, he's not done yet.

"To me we have a long way to go to be a world class zoo.  We are probably there or pretty close, but in my eyes I never stop long enough to look at it that way," Wisthoff added.

Wisthoff says he will enjoy the success of the penguin exhibit and start planning for the future, which will include upgrades to the gorilla and elephant exhibits, just to name a few. Wisthoff says the list of improvements gets longer every day.

The Kansas City Zoo is open 9:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. on weekdays, and 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. on weekends.

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