The sun is shining which means thousands of animals throughout Indiana’s zoos are smiling — at least the ones that like warm weather.
Indiana’s zoos have a plethora of opportunities to view traditional animals like giraffes to the unusual like a Takin. (See the Mesker Zoo description below to find out what this is).
Zoos are a great way to have fun while getting a little education along the way. Let’s start with the northern part of the state.
The Potawatomi Zoo is one of the oldest zoos in Indiana and features 400+ animals. That’s a lot of mouths to feed!
The Potawatomi Zoo has a new activity in 2016 — Endangered Species Carousel! This sweet ride will be a must-stop activity for my group.
The Potawatomi Zoo offers classes, special events and facility rentals so keep it in mind for a special occasion like a family reunion.
500 S. Greenlawn Ave
South Bend, IN
Hours: Daily 10 am-5 pm; last admission 4:30 pm.
Fort Wayne Children’s Zoo
The Fort Wayne Children’s Zoo celebrated its 50th season in 2015. Approximately 622,000 guests visited the zoo, making it a record-breaking year for attendance!
I’ve attended this zoo since its early days and have loved every visit. Apparently others do too because Child Magazine voted it one of the top 10 Children’s Zoos in the nation. The petting zoo section allows kids to feed friendly (and persistent) goats for a real barnyard experience.
The Fort Wayne Children’s Zoo has completed renovations throughout, including the Australian Outback with a new reptile house and three aviaries. A Tasmanian devil exhibit will open in late summer, providing incentive for a return visit!
Insider tip: On a hot day hop into a log on the Crocodile Creek Adventure Ride to cool off.
3411 Sherman Boulevard
Fort Wayne, Indiana 46808
Hours: Now – Labor Day: 9am-7pm with last admission at 7pm. Grounds close at 8pm.
Labor Day – October 9: 9am-5pm with last admission at 5pm. Grounds close at 6pm.
The Indianapolis Zoo is the state’s largest zoo in area with 64 acres located along the banks of the White River. This zoo offers views of 1,600 animals of 250 species and 23,000 plant specimens from oceans, forests, deserts, encounters and plains.
White River Gardens are part of the Zoo. They deserve a visit of their own with three acres and a 5,000-square-foot conservatory. That’s a lot of flora!
In May a new exhibit with 12 sculptures opened in the outdoor gardens: Nature Connects: Art with LEGO bricks.
Rather than think of Legos as those tiny toys grownups hate to step on, consider the creativity they offer. Imagine a polar bear and cubs, snow leopard, monarch butterfly on milkweed made of tens of thousands of these little squares. Amazing!
Inside the Family Nature Center visitors can create their own animals from LEGO® bricks. This is a good place for kids to decompress before heading home.
Note: The Lego exhibit, which continues through Labor Day, is available at no extra cost.
The Indianapolis Zoo is open year-round.
1200 W Washington St
Admission prices vary by day. Check the website for more information.
Mesker Park Zoo & Botanic Garden
In the very southwestern part of the state we find the Mesker Park Zoo & Botanic Garden.
Now we can explain what a Takin is — a four-legged creature with curly horns, a brown coat and eats grass. Officially, it is a goat-antelope found in the eastern Himalayas. This and hundreds of other unique animals, many with babies born over winter, can be viewed at the Mesker Park Zoo which opened in 1928.
The Mesker Park Zoo is open every day of the year.
Hours: 9am – 5pm.
Last admittance at 4 pm; exhibit buildings close at 4:30pm.
1545 Mesker Park Drive
Evansville, Indiana 47720
Washington Park Zoo
Located in Michigan City, Washington Park Zoo has been a sanctuary for animals on the lake front of Lake Michigan since 1925.
New animals and exhibits at the zoo this year include a zebra, an new timber wolves habitat and the adorable fennec fox that is pictured above. The fennec fox is the smallest species of canid in the world and ranges from northern Africa to northern Sinai.
The Washington Park Zoo is open April 1 through October 31.
Hours: 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. with closing time at 5 p.m. between Memorial Day and Labor Day to allow visitors an extra hour with the animals.
Last admittance is an hour before closing time.
115 Lakeshore Drive
Michigan City, IN 46360
Columbian Park Zoo
The Columbian Park Zoo is located at Columbian Park in Lafayette and is free to the public. The zoo is home to over 190 animals, representing 90 different species. The zoo offers a variety of education programs throughout the year that inspire an appreciation for the world’s wildlife.
Open from April to October, the Zoo closes on major holidays.
Hours: May 28th – Mid-August, 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Mid-August – Mid-October, 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
1915 Scott Street
Lafayette, IN 47904