Visit Indianapolis
Visit Indianapolis
Indianapolis Zoo Penguin Dance

Indianapolis Zoo

1200 West Washington Street

Indianapolis, Indiana 46222


Written by Julie Greiner
The Indianapolis Zoo is becoming a "must see" stop with travelers. As visitors "travel" through the Zoo, they go from one fascinating ecological system to another and they begin to get a sense of appreciation for the diversity of life. Because many people will never have the opportunity to visit an African Savannah, an Asian temperate forest or the Amazon River, the Zoo attempts to recreate the natural environments as clearly as possible. From the arctic land of the penguins and polar bears near the front of the Zoo to the realm of the King of the Beats - majestic
African lions - near the far end, a visit to the Indianapolis Zoo is literally a trip around the world!

Connecting Animals, Plants and People

The Indianapolis Zoo is a 64-acre zoological and botanical complex where animals, plants and people connect through education, exhibition, conservation and research. The Zoo takes pride in providing lifelong recreational learning experiences for its visitors and instilling in them a sense of stewardship for the Earth's plants and animals. The primary points where people connect with animals and plants are within the Zoo's Indianapolis Zoo Baby Dolphin "Biomes," or collection of habitats. The biome concept
Indianapolis Zoo Baby Dolphin
presents approximately 350 species of animals and 1,700 species of plants together in simulated natural habitats.

When the doors to the Deserts Biome open, a rush of warm, dry air envelopes visitors. A small lizard darts across the floor and disappears into a crevice of the rocky terrain. A thumb-sized hummingbird flutters above a desert flower in search of its sweet nectar. With one step, visitors leave Indianapolis and arrive in an amazing desert environment.

Birds, Iguanas, Tortoises, Snakes among Deserts Biome Inhabitants

The Earth's rich mosaic of animals, plants and people are all linked by a natural dependence now and later. Aquatic communities comprise much of
the Earth's surface, whether it be fresh or salt water, still or flowing. The abundance of salt water and uneven distribution of fresh water coupled with the difference in temperature has given rise to an extraordinary variety of life, a portion of which is exhibited Indianapolis Zoo Tiger Cub in the Waters Biome at the Zoo.

Aquatic Life Showcased

Bamboo and other plants transform a winding trail in the Indianapolis cityscape into a dense forest experience. Water is prevalent throughout the biome, and on a humid 90-plus degree-day, the Kodiak bears rest in their pool, grasping with
Indianapolis Zoo Tiger Cub
both paws a giant fruit-filled ball of ice. Akhiok and Chugach, the Zoo's Kodiak bear brothers, are among the animals exhibited in the Forests Biome at the Zoo.

Tropical Forest

Kalei (KA-LAY'), has begun to make "guest appearances" during at least two of the Zoo;'s daily dolphin shows. Since her birth on November 16 last year, Kalei has made her home primarily in the east holding pool inside the Dolphin Pavilion. She has now been swimming out into the large performance pool with the adult female dolphins, including mother Nova. At seven months old, Kalei is estimated to be about four feet
Indianapolis Zoo Shark Aquarium
in length and weigh approximately 100 pounds. She is gregarious, and the staff reports that Kalei is very fond of playing with toys in the pool.

Baby Dolphin Kalei

A slice of Africa is recreated in Indianapolis in the expansive Plains Biome. Upon entering the biome, visitors see kudu and zebras grazing in the their large yard along with ostriches, vultures and other birds. In the distance, giraffes pluck leaves from trees, and elephants interact quietly by a waterhole. East African crowned cranes and Marabou storks rest near a pond that runs under a wooden bridge carving a visitor trail through the
Indianapolis Zoo Gibbon
African plains. Following the trail, Australian grasslands replace the African Savannah, colorful birds fly in a walk-through aviary and wallabies are free to roam the visitor trail. The "you are there" theme throughout the Zoo continues in the Plains Biome with simulated African and Australian habitats.

African and Australian Animals

The Elephant Encounters area in the Plains Biome features daily bathing of an African elephant during the summer season. Following the bathing demonstration, which features an informative keeper chat, audience members are allowed to approach and have a real "close encounter" with the elephant.

Located in the Encounters Exploration Center, the Zoo's "UFOs:
Indianapolis Zoo Pavilion
Unbelievable Floating Objects" exhibit will stay at the Indianapolis Zoo through the end of 2001. Parents and children alike are fascinated by these floating aliens - not fish at all, really, but breathtaking beautiful and ancient sea creatures who survive with no brain, no eyes, no ears, no heart, and a body that is almost entirely composed of water. These dazzling species including the moon jelly, the elegant jelly, the umbrella jelly, East and West Coast sea nettles, and the lion's mane jelly. While touring "UFOs," visitors will be mesmerized by the jelly's hypnotic and gentle swimming style.

UFOs Exhibit

Where can
Indianapolis Zoo Baby Elephants
Zoo visitors find a goatsbeard, mother-in-law's tongue and elephant garlic? Those are just a few of the plants that create the African grassland atmosphere in the Plains Biome. What began as an effort to create the look and feel of natural habitats for the animals has evolved into a horticulture collection that now contains more than 7,600 individual plants representing more than 2,100 different species and that holds more monetary value than the Zoo's animal collection. In fact, the Indianapolis Zoo is the only institution in the country that is accredited as a zoological park, aquarium and a botanical garden.

Because of its design and development, the Indianapolis Zoo is essentially a cageless zoo emphasizing the world's many ecosystems, as well as the various species of animals indigenous to these habitats. Built from the ground up and opened in 1988, the downtown zoo takes pride in featuring nearly 350 animal species and 1,700 plant species in simulated natural habitats. The 64-acre compiles is arranged in "biomes," or collections of habitats. For further information call: (317) 630-2001.

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Last Updated: September 23, 2015