Topeka Zoo ‘Safari Zone’ offers Pokemon GO fans a place to play

Players lining up near the entrance. The zoo provided phone charging stations so attendees could continue playing throughout the evening.

Lisa Herdman

“Pokemon GO” fans crowded the Topeka Zoo for a chance to walk the grounds and catch Pokemon from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. July 28.

Attendance reached more than 1600 visitors to the zoo between the three hours trainers were allowed to visit, with four lines wrapping around a block and a half and more than an hour wait to get in the door. Only a couple hundred people were expected, due to the outcome on the zoo’s Facebook event page.

Admission was dropped to $3 instead of the usual $5.75 for adults and $4.25 for children and a raffle ticket was given to each attendee to win prizes including Pokemon themed stuffed animals, pencils and trading cards.

Jared Bednar, guest services manager at the Topeka Zoo, expressed his gratitude to the people that came out to the event and talked about changes for the event in the future.

“We absolutely plan to do it again since we saw so much attention online and the great reception online,” Bednar said.

Bednar said the zoo was a little unprepared, but the staff was doing well and were working around it quickly. Next time they plan to have full concessions up and going for the volume of people that came out as well as more lanes open to get into the zoo to ease the wait time on the outside.

Visitors were allowed to explore the zoo grounds, with the exception of the indoor enclosures, and visit the 15 PokeStops available within. Players can visit the stops and gather items like Pokeballs to capture Pokemon, healing items and gain experience to level up their character.

Some of the encountered Pokemon within the zoo included Kingler, Venomoth, Seel, Tauros, Psyduck, Doduo, Pidgey, Paras, Weedle, Venonat, Abra, Rhyhorn and Gastly.

A $5 hot dog and drink meal deal was available, but Jared Bednar expressed that the zoo may have other offers at its next event.

Some attendees expressed the woes of waiting in line, but enjoyed the experience.

“I came here with my children and my husband and I know that we will come back to an event like this again,” said Aaron Wallentine, part of a family attending the event. “It’s really busy, if you’re not first in line you’re not getting in.”

Along with this event, the city of Topeka hosted another event to face off against the city of Lawrence July 29, called PiKAWchu – a play on words from the famous character Pikachu and the Kansas ‘Kaw’ River – to see who could capture more Pokemon and get the highest level gym from noon to 1 p.m.. Topeka beat out Lawrence claiming a seventh level gym, while Lawrence topped out at level six.

“It’s great to see the community come together like this,” Bednar said. “It’s great to see everyone come out and have a relaxing night in the cooler weather.”

For more events like these at the Topeka Zoo, visit