It seems like every time I’ve logged into Facebook this week, several of my friends are at the zoo! This beautiful weather has made visiting the zoo a perfect treat for all ages. Lulu loves the zoo. Despite not having quite mastered the English language, she has mastered almost every animal sound you can imagine (exactly what does a bunny sound like?). Her love of learning about animals has made going to the zoo one of her favorite activities.
The zoo is a great place to take your own family or any visiting family and friends.
Our favorite exhibits are the dolphin show and Oceans, where you get to touch a real shark! We also enjoy watching the Baboons and other animals in the Plains. There are plenty of places to eat at the zoo but our choice has always been to bring our own lunch (leave it in the car) and sit in the nice picnic area outside of the zoo. Re-entry is easy so taking your lunch anywhere in White River State Park would be nice and beautiful!
5 Reasons to Visit the Indianapolis Zoo in the Off-Season
1. No Lines and a Private Party
We only ran into a handful of other people visiting the zoo when we were there. This meant that there were no lines anywhere. It was like we rented out the zoo for the day for a party of about 20 people. It was awesome!
2. Active Animals
It’s true; some of the animals aren’t out in their exhibits during the colder weather because they are warmer weather animals. However, we saw some of our favorite animals being the most active that we’ve ever seen them.
Many times when we are there in the summer, we catch a glimpse of the polar bear, bear, and tiger trying to find cool places in their habitats. However, when we were there, the animals were super active. We could hear the seals and sea lions “barking” (is that even the right term?) when we were walking up. So it was fun to watch them from the outside viewing area even though it was snowing on us.
The polar bear was active, as was the tiger (who came right up to the glass to us!), and we watched the brown bear for a long time as he tried to figure out how to get his big ball under or over a log.
3. Time to Learn
The Indianapolis Zoo is very popular, so in the summer it’s crowded. Generally my kid is so excited that she’s just running from viewing point to viewing point, in and out of the crowd. However, with hardly anyone else there, she actually slowed down where we could read a lot of the information and discuss it. It was a great homeschooling field trip day for us! (And, I learn something new every single time I go to the zoo. How awesome is that?)
4. Accessible Staff
When there’s no one else at the zoo, the staff is obviously more accessible. In the Oceans Exhibit a fantastic women (I wished I had gotten her name) was walking around the exhibit. Since no one was there, we were able to ask her many questions as we wanted and she even took my daughter to other areas and told her about different things. I later learned that she was an elementary educator. She totally rocked.
5. The Indoor Parts
Ok, for all you whiney people, guess what? The zoo has a ton of different areas where you can go to warm up. These are placed close enough to the outdoor exhibits that we never really got cold when we were there (and, remember, it was snowing). However, if you do get cold, head to The Desert–they keep it a toasty 80 degrees in there! (Don’t miss those cute Meerkats. Dude! They snuggle together when they’re sleeping!)
So what are you waiting for? Bundle up, gather the kids, and head out to the Indianapolis Zoo. You’ll thank me later when the kids have burned off some of that cooped-up winter energy.
International Orangutan Center | Indianapolis Zoo
The Indianapolis Zoo has been home to eight endangered orangutans for the past several years. Most of them have a star-studded Hollywood background but they sure do love Indianapolis. Their stomping grounds are in the International Orangutan Center, a habitat that was designed and built for guests to have multiple observation and interactive opportunities with these friends. During my visit, I think that the apes were probably the spectators and I was the one on exhibit, I sure was making funny noises and gestures!
One feature that is sure to be a favorite for all ages is the Skyline, an aerial gondola ride that rises 50 feet above the Zoo and offers an up-close view of the orangutans exploring the Myrta Pulliam Hutan Trail, a sidewalk in the sky! The orangutans make the tightrope walk from platform to platform and guests will follow along on 1200 feet of track. Rides on the gondola are $3 per person and this attraction is expected to be open in June.
When the zoo closes at night, the fun isn’t over. A 150-foot structure called the Beacon of Hope will be illuminated each night and the colors will be controlled by the orangutans!
I love that the Orangutan Center offers indoor and outdoor interactions with the apes. Inside the center, guests can interact with the resident orangutans by way of a touchscreen panel. There will be classroom experiences and other opportunities to learn about our endangered friends.
The International Orangutan Center is a permanent structure and exhibit at the Indianapolis Zoo. Admission and participation are included with your zoo admission. Very heavy crowds are expected when the center opens on Saturday, May 24th and throughout the weekends. The best time to visit at this time will be during weekday mornings.
New this summer, the Indianapolis Zoo has opportunities to save money on your tickets when you purchase them in advance online. Take a peek at the calendar and select your dates for different rates. Admission is less expensive on days where lower attendance is projected and when purchased in advance.
Get Up Close to Butterflies at Butterfly Kaleidoscope
Vivid swirls of living color and the delicate whispers of wings will fill the air as Butterfly Kaleidoscope is back at the Indianapolis Zoo!
Guests can once again experience this beautiful and immersive exhibit from March 21 through September 2, 2019. Set inside the Hilbert Conservatory at White River Gardens, this popular seasonal showcase features thousands of these wonderful winged insects free-flying throughout a tropical, indoor paradise that visitors will never want to leave.
This year’s awe-inspiring exhibit will highlight 40 species from four different continents. Among the radiant varieties are Indiana natives, such as the American painted lady, as well as stunning exotic insects, from the small-yet-striking Costa Rica tiger to the blue morpho, one of the world’s largest butterflies with a wingspan up to 8 inches across.
Each day, visitors can witness these creatures’ incredible metamorphosis unfolding inside the emergence chamber located near the center of the Conservatory. Timed daily releases offer a perfect opportunity for guests to have a close encounter, and a newly emerged butterfly may even pause momentarily on a guest’s hand before taking its first flight.
Vibrant colors continue throughout the space with stunning artistic elements, including hand-blown glass feeders and the build-a-butterfly activity wall that younger guests will love.
Home gardeners interested in bringing butterflies to their own backyards can discover the native pollinator garden located behind the Conservatory. Inspiration can also be found outdoors amid the 3 acres of lush plantings throughout the Gardens, which will soon be bursting with beautiful spring tulips.
Admission to White River Gardens, including the Hilbert Conservatory and Butterfly Kaleidoscope, is free for Zoo members and included with regular Zoo admission. Guests are encouraged to save time and money by planning their visit in advance at IndianapolisZoo.com
Photo courtesy of Shannon Gaughan-Kelly. Article courtesy of Indianapolis Zoo.
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