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A Great Day at the Indianapolis Zoo

June 27, 2015 Leave a comment
Indianapolis Zoo.

Indianapolis Zoo in White River State Park.
AroundIndy.com staff photo, (c) 2015, all rights reserved.

By Bob Burchfield, Editor
AroundIndy.com, LLC

It’s easy to dream about taking a trip to the beach or the mountains or some special place that’s captured in your imagination, but we often overlook the obvious gems right under our noses.

You don’t have to travel all over the country or the world to have a good time. Indianapolis is living proof of that. And one of those gems is the Indianapolis Zoo and White River Gardens.

In the course of covering Indianapolis events, I drive by the zoo almost every week. But I haven’t been inside the zoo in nearly five years. I discovered this week that a LOT has changed since the last time I visited.

With its entertainment and rides, dining options, special exhibits, and all those animals, the Indianapolis Zoo is among the best attractions in Indiana. The Oceans, Forests, Deserts, Plains, and Flights of Fancy areas—in addition to White River Gardens—offer visitors a wide variety of viewing and interactive activities and a full day of fun.

Bath Time at the Indianapolis Zoo.

Bath Time at the Indianapolis Zoo.
AroundIndy.com staff photo, (c) 2015, all rights reserved.

My personal favorites during this visit were the elephants in the Plains area. I found two active youngsters in the pond just swimming and splashing and having a good time and putting on a real show for the spectators (see photo above). Simple enjoyment at its best! I also enjoyed getting up close and personal with the giraffes (as the photo below reveals!).

Up close and personal with the giraffes at the Indianapolis Zoo.

Up close and personal with the giraffes at the Indianapolis Zoo.
AroundIndy.com staff photo, (c) 2015, all rights reserved.

That’s not to overlook or overshadow the other activities at the zoo. Each day from Memorial Day to Labor Day, the zoo offers a regular summer schedule with special chats at designated hours of the day, such as Tiger, Cheetah, Parrot, Baboon, Python, and Meerkat Chats, plus the Dolphin Presentations three times a day in the Dolphin Pavilion and the All-Star Dog Challenge four times a day most days of the week.

Butterflies Exhibit at White River Gardens.

Butterflies Exhibit at White River Gardens.
AroundIndy.com staff photo, (c) 2015, all rights reserved.

Two notable temporary exhibits—the Butterflies exhibit at the Hilbert Conservatory (see photo above) and the Koalas exhibit in the Forests area (see photo below)—both end on Sept. 7, 2015.

Koala action (?) at the Indianapolis Zoo.

Koala action (?) at the Indianapolis Zoo.
AroundIndy.com staff photo, (c) 2015, all rights reserved.

But the biggest noticeable change since my last visit is the Simon Skjodt International Orangutan Center in the Deserts area, an imposing structure with a cathedral-style architecture. The entrance almost made me feel like I was entering a church! And you can get up within inches of the orangutans (as well as many of the other animals, on the other side of the glass, of course). Fascinating creatures!

Hire wire act at the Indianapolis Zoo Orangutan Center.

High wire act at the Indianapolis Zoo Orangutan Center.
AroundIndy.com staff photo, (c) 2015, all rights reserved.

As my photos reveal, many of the animals are as curious about you as you are of them. It makes for an interesting and visually-appealing experience, and is certainly a photographer’s delight! I had a bear-y good time [grin]:

A bear-y good time at the Indianapolis Zoo.

A bear-y good time at the Indianapolis Zoo.
AroundIndy.com staff photo, (c) 2015, all rights reserved.

On a side note, I was wheeling my camera equipment around in a sizable cart, and so I’m happy to report that the grounds are fully wheelchair- and handicap-accessible.

There’s so much more than I’ve covered here in a short blog post. When you throw in special events like Zoobilation, Zoolapalooza, Animals and All That Jazz, ZooBoo, Christmas at the Zoo, and all the other special events each year, the zoo is definitely worth a visit if you haven’t been lately!

Flamingo Exhibit in the Flights of Fancy area at the Indianapolis Zoo.

Flamingo Exhibit in the Flights of Fancy area at the Indianapolis Zoo.
AroundIndy.com staff photo, (c) 2015, all rights reserved.

The Indianapolis Zoo is located in White River State Park at 1200 West Washington Street, just on the west side of downtown Indianapolis, Indiana, and is open daily beginning at 9 am.

For more information, visit http://indianapoliszoo.com/, or call 317-630-2001.

DISCLOSURE NOTICE: The Indianapolis Zoo provided a free media pass and tour guide for this visit. Thank you for the hospitality! Please note that these photos were taken from the general visitor areas that any zoo visitor can access.

Kombo Coaster in the Deserts Area at the Indianapolis Zoo.

Kombo Coaster in the Deserts Area at the Indianapolis Zoo.
AroundIndy.com staff photo, (c) 2015, all rights reserved.

Riding the Zoo Train in the Plains Area at the Indianapolis Zoo.

Riding the Zoo Train in the Plains Area at the Indianapolis Zoo.
AroundIndy.com staff photo, (c) 2015, all rights reserved.

36th Zoopolis 500 at the Indianapolis Zoo, May 20, 2015

Indianapolis Zoo

Indianapolis Zoo. AroundIndy.com staff photo, (c) 2013, all rights reserved.

By Carla Knapp
Indianapolis Zoo

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.