KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Providing for the needs of a variety of wild animals and caring for tens of thousands of visitors each year comes at a cost to the Kansas City Zoo.
Along with caring for exotic animals, the zoo's conservation program sends zookeepers around the world to help save species in need of help.
"We are working with a number of animals around the planet," Kansas City Zoo director Randy Wisthoff said. "There are some great programs trying to help save the animals out there where they normally live."
But the program is expensive.
"We have been raising money privately to do that. Right now, we are putting in about $300,000 a year," Wisthoff said.
The Jones Gallery saw the need and stepped in to help.
"How can you beat the Kansas City Zoo?" asked David Jones, owner of the Jones Gallery. "It's got the great visuals out there. You got great things to paint. Animals have been so popular, I mean my goodness."
Jones said he solicited animal-themed art and even asked some local artists to paint creatures at the zoo. A year later, the exhibit has 150 pieces of art ranging from watercolors to photography. There is also a silver lining to the collection.
The artwork eventually gets sold, with the proceeds split between the artist and the zoo's conservation program.
Wisthoff said he is grateful for Jones and the artists who are giving back.
"We just couldn't be happier in having local participation that's helping solve a global problem," Wisthoff said.
The exhibit is only for the month of October at the Jones Gallery in the Crossroads Arts District. Prices range from $150 to $4,000.
"It's Kansas City artists. Huge in supporting the artists and supporting the zoo — what a great combination," Jones said.