David and Jan Traylor stand in front of the zoo’s brand new entrance, which was unveiled on July 8.

The David Traylor Zoo of Emporia is looking forward to another successful year after bouncing back through the COVID-19 pandemic in 2021. 

That's the message Zoo Director Lisa Keith and the board of directors gave during the zoo's annual meeting Wednesday evening. 

"In 2021, we were excited about the fact that our attendance was closer to where we had been in the past," Keith said. "We had 72,393 visitors last year, which was up from around 40,000 in 2020." 

The Emporia Friends of the Zoo reported 601 paid memberships, she said. Those memberships came from 80 cities across 22 states and two countries. 

"That's pretty exciting to us to know that we're reaching out that far away from Emporia," she said. 

Keith said there were a number of successful events over the course of the year. Events were able to be held in person, while in 2020 most events were held virtually.  The Night in the Wild fundraiser was declared a success and a number of conservation efforts have been expanded. 

"The Monach butterflies and our tagging program has been very important to us," she said. "This year we became a partner with AZA SAFE — saving animals from extinction — for the Monarch butterfly and the North American turtles." 

Keith said zoo staff will continue its pollinator garden this year, which has been running for four years along with six other accredited zoos in the state. 

"Those efforts continue  and, of course, our community partnerships have been very important," she said. "The zoo couldn't do what it does without community involvement and everybody getting involved, so we thank all of them." 

Keith said there are some exciting updates coming in 2022 as well. 

The zoo plans to complete its new parking lot, located near the zoo education center, this year. Signage for the interstate should also be done by the end of the month. 

"We've got plans already in the works for the zoo education center expansion and remodel," Keith added. "That's all in 2022." 

More updates are still on the way as part of the zoo's $4.3 million Oasis campaign, which will bring a new wallaby exhibit and cereopsis goose exhibit. And, of course, the North American river otters. 

"Every year there's going to be something new," Keith said. 

Up next for the zoo is the Emporia Friends of the Zoo Round-Up, set for 6 p.m. March 4 at the Anderson Building on the Lyon County Fairgrounds. Keith said guests can "come as they are" or wear their favorite "cowboy duds." 

Tickets are $25 per person or $200 for a table of eight. For more information or to purchase tickets, visit  

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