Yael T. Abouhalkah

KC Zoo moves ‘free admission day” to avoid crowd problems

Kansas City Zoo officials have taken an understandable step to avoid crowd-related problems they had the last time free admission was offered to Jackson and Clay county residents.

The next free day — given to those residents because they supported a sales tax increase in 2011 to improve the zoo — has been moved from Saturday, June 29, to Tuesday, June 25.

The zoo has extended its hours on that day, opening from from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. Normal hours for a Tuesday in June would be 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Zoo Director Randy Wisthoff, working with law enforcement and other city officials, in recent weeks had discussed how to reduce some of the crowding that led to

arrests and complaints

during the last free day in April for residents of the so-called Zoological District.

From a press release on Friday, zoo officials said, “Guest experience at the zoo is the number one priority.”

Wisthoff, stated, “Every child, teenager, adult and grandparent needs an opportunity to visit the zoo. Most importantly during their visit they need to enjoy the animals and relish the time spent with their friends and family. By moving this free day to what had been known for many years as a discount day at the zoo, Tuesdays, and extending hours until 7 p.m., we hope to hear much laughter and see everyone creating amazing zoo memories.”

The downside: Fewer people will be able to go because the event isn’t on a weekend.

The upside: People who really want to go to the zoo will be motivated to do that, will make time to be with their children and should enjoy the experience more with fewer people there.

Plus, the zoo after this Tuesday event may find that it’s extremely popular and keep it there.

Or, if no one shows up, the zoo should go back to a weekend date and take appropriate crowd-control measures.