36th Zoopolis 500 at the Indianapolis Zoo, May 20, 2015
By Carla Knapp
Ready. Set. Slow! The 36th running of Zoopolis 500 presented by the American Dairy Association Indiana is May 20, 2015, at the Indianapolis Zoo, 1200 West Washington Street, Indianapolis, Indiana.
Considered the “Greatest Spectacle in Tortoise Racing,” this event is one of the Zoo’s most popular and longest running traditions.
Zoopolis 500 puts a unique twist on the Indianapolis 500 and regularly draws thousands of local fans and national media attention.
This beloved event features the “racing” radiated tortoises as well as 2013 Indianapolis 500 champion Tony Kanaan, who will serve as the honorary race steward, and former Indianapolis Motor Speedway chief announcer Mike King, who will call all the Zoopolis action.
Race-day activities begin at 10:30am at the Entry Plaza where guests can meet the 500 Festival Princesses and get pictures with a 500 Festival Pace Car.
Guests can also get a chug of Dean’s milk (while supplies last), meet Zoo mascots and pose for photos with a winner’s wreath.
Pre-race analysis then begins at 11am at Dean’s Arena as King and Kanaan take center stage along with Zookeeper Jon Pilarski, who will share some expert insights before the main event.
The parade around Dean’s Arena begins at 11:30am and also includes 500 Festival Princesses, the Dairy Princess, American Dairy Association mascot Buttercup and the racing tortoises.
Following the parade, Kanaan will drop the green flag on the feature race and guests can cheer for their favorite tortoise as they “speed” toward the finish line and a tray of delicious fruits waiting in the winner’s circle.
At the finish line, the winning “pit crew” will enjoy icy cold bottles of milk, provided by the American Dairy Association Indiana.
Following the race, guests are invited to meet the winning tortoise and his crew — Zookeepers who can answer tortoise-related questions and tell guests all about the Zoo’s efforts to help these critically endangered animals.
Zoopolis 500 activities are free for Zoo members and included with regular admission. Guests are encouraged to save time and money by planning their visit in advance at http://indianapoliszoo.com/. For more information, call 317-630-2001.