Indianapolis Zoo: Ideal Time to Go + 32 Amazing Animals to See

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Written by Alanna Davis

Published: February 2, 2024

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Are you planning a trip to the Indianapolis Zoo? If so, you might have questions about what animals you can see there, the kinds of events hosted, and the best times to visit. Today, we answer all of these questions and share some fun facts about the history of the Indianapolis Zoo!

History Of the Indianapolis Zoo

The Indianapolis Zoo remains independent, relying on donations from locals.

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The story of the Indianapolis Zoo began in the 1940s. A writer named Lowell Nussbaum wrote several pieces in his column “Inside Indianapolis” about his desire to open a zoo in the city. By the mid-1940s, his idea gained traction, capturing the attention of other impassioned individuals in the community. Nussbaum, alongside other locals, banded together to begin plans for the Indianapolis Zoo. It remains independent to this day, depending on donations from the local community rather than relying on government funds.

When Is the Best Time to Visit The Indianapolis Zoo?

The Indianapolis Zoo had its grand opening on April 18th, 1964.

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Although the Indianapolis Zoo offers some indoor attractions, guests will enjoy their experience most while the weather outside is pleasant. According to the Indianapolis Zoo website, “Our animals are generally more active when the temperatures are moderate, which makes spring an ideal time for a visit. During warmer months, get an early start and visit in the cooler mornings to give you the best chance of seeing animals when they’re most active. If you arrive later in the day, start at the Plains Exhibit to ensure you have a chance to see all the animals before they go inside for the evening.” In addition, a variety of exhibits are seasonal and limited to the spring and summer. Planning a trip sometime between May and August is recommended, as temperatures during this time are most comfortable.

Animals You Can See at The Indianapolis Zoo

Red panda animal

The Indianapolis Zoo is home to roughly 4,000 animals, including red pandas.

©AB Photographie/

The Indianapolis Zoo is home to just about every animal you can think of. The grounds are split into several biomes, each containing animals native to their respective area. For example, guests interested in seeing reptiles such as snakes, bearded dragons, lizards, and turtles can visit the Desert Biome. In addition to these scaly creatures, meerkats and sand cats are also present here. The Forest Biome is arguably the most striking of all, as it is home to several fearsome predators. Guests can visit Alaskan brown bears, Siberian tigers, crocodiles, and eagles. However, this area also has adorable red pandas, cockatoos, and kangaroos as well.

The Plains Biome is another must-see for guests who visit the Indianapolis Zoo. Cheetahs, baboons, giraffes, rhinos, gazelles, lions, and even elephants reside in this section. If birds are more your thing, the Flights of Fancy Exhibit is sure to please, as flamingos, cockatiels, lorikeets, hornbills, and starlings are all on display. What zoo would be complete without an area for marine life? For those curious about the creatures who dwell in the ocean, there are exhibits for dolphins, penguins, seals, sharks, manta rays, and a variety of fish. In addition to all of these attractions, this zoo also has a seasonal butterfly exhibit during the spring and summer.

Activities at The Indianapolis Zoo

Guests can enjoy a wealth of educational opportunities at this zoo.

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In addition to viewing the animals, guests also have an opportunity to get hands-on with them. There are several animal feed locations scattered throughout the park. Some animals that are part of this program are giraffes, flamingos, kangaroos, and budgies. After feeding the animals, guests can grab a bite for themselves at one of several on-site dining locations. Although some are only open seasonally, Cafe on the Commons is open year-round regardless of weather.

A variety of educational shows happen throughout the day in different areas of the park. In addition, kids of all ages are sure to love the carousel, and some might feel brave enough to ride the Kōmbo Coaster! Before leaving for the day, all guests should take the skyline tour. This experience is relaxing, but it also gives visitors the opportunity to see the park from a birds-eye view. Who knows, you might just catch a glimpse of an attraction you missed!

Final Thoughts

In addition to providing the best treatment possible for their animals, the leadership at the Indianapolis Zoo is also passionate about conservation. In fact, the zoo developed the Indianapolis Prize to reward outstanding conservationists at the top of their field. For both the quality of their exhibits and their conservation efforts, the Indianapolis Zoo is one of the best zoos in the country. Planning a visit might seem overwhelming, as the zoo encompasses roughly 60 acres! With so many different animals and activities, it’s best to look at a map and form a game plan before heading into the park for the day!

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About the Author

Alanna is a writer at A-Z Animals primarily covering insects, animals, and travel. In addition to writing, she spends her time tutoring English and exploring the east end of Long Island. Prior to receiving her Bachelor's in Economics from Stony Brook University, Alanna spent much of her time studying entomology and insect biology.

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