More than 30 years ago Jim and Sherri Fouts created the Tanganyika Wildlife Company zoo supply business. The company bred, transported, imported and exported primarily birds from around the world.
In the early 1980’s, Jim and Sherri recognized they could make a difference for many rare and endangered species by creating successful breeding programs in the United States. The Wichita natives returned to the area and began growing their collection of animals in Goddard.
In 2000 they started conducting private tours in their backyard and by 2004 more than 5,000 people visited the Fouts family animal collection. In 2005, the family decided to build an entirely new zoo and just 3 years later Tanganyika formally opened its doors to the public. Last year more than 100,000 people attended Tanganyika Wildlife Park.
Tanganyika’s mission is to share their passion for animals by providing experiences that are entertaining and educational in order to have a significant impact in the stewardship of select species. Their breeding programs have had an impact on species like the Clouded Leopard. Tanganyika has helped increase the captive Clouded Leopard population worldwide by over 10 percent. Additionally, last year 26 rare and endangered species of cats were born in the wildlife park.
“Our aim is to provide the ultimate experience for visitors and to be one of the premier facilities for breeding endangered species in the world,” says Matt, assistant director, Tanganyika Wildlife Park. “Our goal was to encourage interaction and provide family entertainment so people would feel more connected to the animals and more likely to learn and care about them.”
At Tanganyika, visitors can view more than 80 different rare and endangered species of animals as well as feed Lemurs, Giraffes, Indian Rhinos, African Tortoises and Lorikeets.
“People want the interaction with animals. It is a life experience,” says Matt. “We have two unique experiences to the United States: with a lemur feeding island and feeding station for the Indian Rhinos.” On May 31, Tanganyika Wildlife Park is hosting its 4th annual Twilight Tours event to raise funds for the Tanganyika Winter Fund.
“Tanganyika is a family-owned business that does not receive state or local funding,” explains Matt. “The park is closed during the winter, so we have to raise over $600,000 to feed and care for our animals during the winter months.”
Daily cost of care
African Penguin | $4
Ring-tail Lemur | $12
Amur Leopard | $17
Giraffe | $36
Indian & Black Rhinos | $49
The Twilight Tours event includes wine and beer samplings, Hampel Oil VIP dinner prepared by the Hereford House, free unlimited interactive animal stations, visits with animal keepers, and the Wichita Family Vision animal art auction. Additional VIP benefits include a special cocktail hour and meet and greet with Jim Fouts, owner of Tanganyika Wildlife Park.
“We strive to make every Tanganyika experience a quality experience,” says Matt. “Twilight Tours is no exception. This event emphasizes even more interaction with the animals and the keepers. Attendees can learn more about each animal’s personality as well as visit the animals that are off exhibit including a fan favorite — Oz, the Black Jaguar.”
Event live auction items include Swimming with the Penguins and a Sundowner’s Pack that includes a special evening for 14 individuals on the sundeck overlooking the Giraffes.
“The Swim with the Penguins package is really a great opportunity. Tanganyika is the only place, to my knowledge, to offer this in North America,” says Matt.
Tanganyika is open every day May 1 through August with special park hours from September to November. For more information about Tanganyika Wildlife Park and to purchase tickets for Twilight Tours visit twpark.com.
Tanganyika Twilight Tours
5 p.m. May 31
Tanganyika Wildlife Park
$55 per person
VIP passes for $125
To purchase tickets visit twpark.com