A trip to Indiana's capital city, Indianapolis, is not complete without a stop at the Indianapolis Zoo. The Indianapolis Zoo, which opened in 1964, hosts a million visitors every year and is a major contributor to worldwide conservation efforts. The Indianapolis Zoo also boasts the unique claim of being the only attraction to be accredited by both the American Zoo and Aquarium Association (AZA) and the American Association of Museums as a zoo, a botanic garden, and an aquarium.
Putting the "Zoo" in Indianapolis Zoo
The zoo portion of the Indianapolis Zoo is magnificent and filled with fun for the entire family. The zoo is divided into five different "biomes," which are special habitats built for the animals within the zoo. One of the great attractions of this zoo is the fact that the biomes so closely resemble the natural habitats of the animals. This, of course, is great for the animals. But, it also adds to the fun, beauty, and educational value of the trip.
While visiting the forest biome, vistors can learn more about how the forests are used by humans to build materials, fuel, agriculture, homes, and more. Children will gaze in wonder at giant Kodiak bears from Alaska, otters from Asia, and Siberian tigers. Bamboo and other plants growing throughout the area help create the feel of actually being in a forest while visiting with these creatures.
The desert biome is an innovative structure that allows its animals to enjoy the natural sun during the summer, while strategically hidden air condition and heating vents ensure the temperature of the dome stays in the 80's at all times. This setup has been so successful that the Indianapolis Zoo has gained world recognition for its outstanding breeding programs of rare and endangered reptiles. The desert biome is home to a wide variety of birds, snakes, amphibians, and lizards. There are also over 250 different species of plants growing in the desert biome, many of which are endangered. In May of 2006, the desert biome will welcome new reptiles and birds, as well as meerkats, to its exhibit.
One portion of the plains biome of the Indianapolis Zoo is created to look like an African plain, while another section is set up as an Australian plain. In the African portion, visitors can enjoy watching zebras, kudu, eland, vultures, ostriches, giraffes, and elephants. In the Australian plain, they can see lorikeets, emus, and red kangaroos. In addition, the children will love the elephant show that is put on in this area of the zoo. At this show, trained elephants perform amazing tricks. Afterward, the children are invited to come up to the elephants for a close up encounter. Here, they can touch the elephants and ask the zookeeper all of their hard-pressing questions.
At the encounters biome, the whole family can interact with many of the zoo's animals. Here, the children can enjoy pony rides and train rides. For the thrill seeker, there is also a roller coaster called Kombo in this section of the zoo. Or, visitors can enjoy a 4-D simulator ride featuring an African Safari theme.
A recently added exhibit, Critter Corner, can also be found in this biome. At Critter Corner, zoo visitors can interact with animals while learning about their unique behaviors and proper care from zoo keepers. The extraordinary bird show can also be found within the amphitheater at this section of the zoo. At this show, visitors learn about a variety of birds of prey as they watch trained birds fly and even catch and eat food in the air. Children of all ages are truly amazed by this spectacle!
The waters biome is the area that has earned the Indianapolis Zoo recognition as an aquarium. Here, guests can see a variety of marine animals, including seals, penguins, polar bears, walruses, fish, amphibians, and birds. They can also take in the dolphin show. This fantastic show builds in audience participation as the dolphins perform amazing tricks. All the while, zoo visitors learn more about these magnificent creatures.
The Botanical Side of the Indianapolis Zoo
Amazing plants can be found throughout all of the Indianapolis Zoo. These plants help add to the authenticity of the biomes and also make the Indianapolis Zoo one of the most beautiful to visit. In addition, the zoo offers a separate park called White River Gardens. This 3.3 acre botanical garden is filled with a wide variety of plants and design. There are over 1,000 different plants on display within the botanical garden, which is sometimes used for weddings. This area also provides an educational experience as guests can learn more about how to properly grow and care for their gardens and plants.