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Sedgwick County Zoo Tears Down Longtime Exhibit To Make Way For New Construction

Nadya Faulx
Demolition starts on the Asian Barn at the Sedgwick County Zoo.

Staff at the Sedgwick County Zoo gathered this morning to watch as crews demolished the zoo’s second-oldest building.

The almost 50-year-old Asian Barn came down to make room for a temporary entrance while the zoo updates and expands its main entry plaza. The pagoda-inspired building was already standing when the zoo opened in 1971.

Credit Nadya Faulx / KMUW
Callene Rapp, front, watches as the Asian Barn comes down. The senior zookeeper says losing the "good old barn" is "bittersweet."

“I’m going to miss it. It was a good old barn,” said senior zookeeper Callene Rapp. “But they definitely gave us an upgrade with the new barn for the animals, and that’s definitely an improvement.

“But it is kind of hard to see it go. A lot of history.”

Rapp has worked in the farm area for 24 years and started her career in the Asian Barn. She said staff held a party recently to say goodbye to the barn.

Credit Nadya Faulx / KMUW
Staff watch as the Sedgwick County Zoo's Asian Barn is torn down.

“You know, for zookeepers, the important thing is the animals, and the building that they’re housed in, that’s not such a big deal,” she says. “But the fact that all the animals are staying, so we still have that connection, that’s what’s most important to us.”

The animals have been relocated to other exhibits nearby while the new barn is built. The temporary entrance should open in early December.

The zoo is in the early stages of implementing its new 25-year master plan, which includes updated habitats, an events-and-concert venue, and an African savanna-themed hotel and resort.

Follow Nadya Faulx on Twitter @NadyaFaulx. To contact KMUW News or to send in a news tip, reach us at news@kmuw.org.