The Indianapolis Zoo: Your Ultimate Guide

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For the best trip possible, the Indianapolis Zoo recommends a visit in the spring. If it’s a cooler day, you’ll see the most activity in the mornings. With over 60 acres of animals and activities, you won’t want to miss a thing. When you are planning a visit to Indiana’s top zoo, check the daily schedule of events. This zoo also holds special events throughout each day and week with special animals like sea lions, flamingos, macaws, kangaroos, birds, dolphins, orangutans, elephants, giraffes, rays, cheetahs, lions, alligators, and brown bears. 


The Indianapolis Zoo leads several conservation efforts at home and abroad. The zoo advances sustainability measures by using green power, recycling, doing away with plastics, power recycling, and car charging stations. They offer a full list of conservation efforts that you can involve your children in such as recycling electronics to cut demand for mining for metals, planting native wildflower gardens for bees and other pollinators, and skipping the plastic straws and bags at the grocery stores. After your visit, you can discuss conservation efforts with your child as you remember back on your favorite animals you visited.


Another way to get your child involved in the Indianapolis Zoo’s conservation efforts is for them to become an “Animal Amigo”. Right now, the zoo offers an orangutan package that, with your donation, includes a package of an orangutan stuffed animal, a picture of an orangutan, a designated certificate, and their name on the Animal Amigo board inside the Oceans building. For bigger donations, you can sponsor other animals like a seal, alligator, lion, giraffe, flamingo, cheetah, dolphin, walrus, and more! This zoo is passionate about its animals and your gift goes a long way towards not only their care but conservation efforts to other wild animals, just like them.

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About Indianapolis Zoo

The Indianapolis Zoo offers a wide variety of animals to see during your visit. There are six main areas to view animals including the Hix Institute and butterfly pavilion, Oceans, Forests, Deserts, Flights of Fancy, and the Plains. This Indiana zoo presents young animal lovers with the opportunity to participate in several exciting zoo programs, often after hours and including special perks.


Zoobilation is the Indianapolis Zoo’s largest and most anticipated night of the year. This black-tie event is a night full of luxury and incredible animals. Festive, themed drinks and local cuisine provided by exquisite restaurants make this a night to remember. Sway and dance with your partner to live music while socializing with others who take seriously their commitment to the zoo’s conservation efforts. The premium experience offers guests opportunities for animal interaction, priority parking, an exclusive gift, and a lounge area in the Dolphin Pavillion with access only provided to premium guests.


For your little ones, our family’s favorite events are ZooBoo and Christmas at the Zoo. ZooBoo runs every year from late September to October 31st. Attractions are available for select dates during the week and include seasonal fun like Pumpkin Town, a photo safari, trick-or-treat trail, the roller ghoster, round-go-merry, spooktacular train ride, gator pirate bayou, animal pumpkin smashes, and special Halloween food and drink concoctions. Just after ZooBoo closes, get ready for Christmas at the Zoo which runs from mid-November to December 30th. The holiday-themed evenings at the zoo include opportunities to meet and visit Santa, decorate cookies with Mrs. Claus, see the reindeer responsible for delivering presents, walk through a glittering tunnel of lights, meet and hear stories from holiday characters, have a penguin encounter, and enjoy holiday-themed cocktails! 

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White River Gardens and the Hilbert Conservatory

White River Gardens now includes the Indianapolis Colts Welcome Plaza, Hilbert Conservatory, and DeHaan Tiergarten areas. Your family can now view animal encounters with parrots, sloths, snakes, aardvarks, and a rat up close and personal! This is a pop-up experience and times and dates are fluid. White River Gardens prioritizes its 20K+ honey bees and educates visitors on how you can help these amazing pollinators from home. 


The Hilbert Conservatory houses a tropical sanctuary for plants, flowers, and trees. You must experience the butterflies that will flutter around you. Visit the incubator area to view chrysalises and learn all about butterflies from experienced and knowledgeable center employees. The butterfly species that inhabit the conservatory may change annually.

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I’m completely impartial when I say that the Ocean’s Center is my absolute favorite. I live for visiting my favorites like the bottlenose dolphins in the world’s only underwater viewing dome. I fell in love with dolphins during an elementary school field trip way back when. The Indianapolis Zoo also offers exclusive experiences with these beautiful creatures like the dolphin show, a dolphin meet-and-greet, and an in-water dolphin adventure.


If you plan your trip just right, you can help feed the rays! While in the Oceans area, trek over to the nation’s largest shark touch pool stocked with male smooth dogfish sharks. See if you can find the angelfish, green moray eels, lionfish, pot-bellied sea horses, tangs, and sea stars. Search for all three types of penguins- the Gentoo, King, and Rockhoppers. The seals and sea lions can be viewed underwater in the Oceans area and also above the water on your way to view the walrus. The long-tailed macaque exhibit is for sure a not-miss.



The Indianapolis Zoo highlights animals from both temperate and tropical forests around the world. Transport yourself to their world by visiting the Alaskan Brown Bear, Amur Tiger, Crocodile, Eagle, Kangaroo, Red Panda, and White-Handed Gibbon. For an adventure, check the zoo’s schedule for the day to get a chance to feed a kangaroo! While viewing the alligators and crocodiles, each up to 15 feet in length, you might just have the chance to meet a juvenile alligator.


The Simon Skjodt International Orangutan Center houses a large group of friendly and interactive orangutans. Eat at the Westside Cafe for a chance to view these great apes climb the 80’ towers and carefully scale the ropes that soar above the open zoo. Outside the center, you can view the orangutans indoors, enjoying their habitat and often snacking on lettuce leaves. Finally making your way indoors, the center focuses on education, research, and conservation for these amazing animals. The Zoo currently houses 10 orangutans with varying personalities that will wow your family!

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As you walk into the desert dome, you’ll be met with a dry heat that might make you wonder if you’ve been magically shifted from Indiana to another world. Your favorite desert species like lizards, bearded dragons, snakes, chuckwallas, iguanas, meerkats, sand cats, and tortoises thrive in this environment. No need to fear the slippery snakes, vipers, pythons, and boas. They are safely located in tanks specifically created for them. Thank goodness because I think snakes are the worst but one of my children adores them. I’m happy to hang back while she gets her fill on her beloved creatures. The Indianapolis Zoo also boasts itself to be home to the world’s deadliest snake.


The main portion of the desert habitat is home to fun creatures like iguanas, tortoises, agamas, chuckwallas, toads, and lizards. They crawl upon the bottom of the desert floor as you walk elevated, above their habitat. The meerkats can be found burrowing in their large exhibit. It’s an amazing experience to watch them dig their underground tunnels and caves.


Flights of Fancy

The Flights of Fancy is open to birds like the blue-bellied roller, budgerigars, cockatiels, couas, partridges, flamingos, woodhoopoes, guinea fowls, lorikeets, starlings, weavers, guineafowl, and yellow-billed hornbill. I remember the first time my family saw the “Magnificent Macaws” presentation. We had no idea what was happening when we looked to the sky. We were surprised to see seven different species of amazing macaws flying back and forth across the zoo. It was truly a magnificent sight watching these incredible birds fly overhead, talking to one another as they went.


The Indianapolis Zoo offers multiple experiences to feed animals inside Flights of Fancy. I have a fun fact about flamingoes that we found out years ago while participating in feeding them. Their gorgeous, perfectly pink color comes from eating a specific type of shrimp! Also, check the Zoo’s calendar for feeding schedules for budgies and lorikeets. 



Transport your family to the savannahs of Africa by first taking the train ride through the Plains area. After leaving the train, head straight to the Plains Wild Encounter Station. Here, you can have a mini adventure and meet animals like snakes, turtles, and hedgehogs. Walk the path to the right and you will find zebras, wildebeests, cheetahs, kudus, storks, giraffes, rhinoceroses, vultures, warthogs, baboons, cranes, porcupines, and of course elephants and lions! 


At Tembo Camp, the African Elephant’s newest play space, take part in an elephant bathing experience- from head to toe! Also encounter the White Rhinoceros in a big way. Spend time behind-the-scenes and even getting the opportunity to touch one of these incredible creatures. Check the Indianapolis Zoo schedule for more information on daily giraffe feeding windows. Finally, race a cheetah or join in on a cheetah chat over by the warthog and elephant exhibits.

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Indianapolis Zoo


The Indianapolis Zoo offers plenty of opportunities to view some of the world’s most amazing animals up close. But no encounter can come close to their Animal Art Adventures. For a fee, you can take home a piece of artwork created just for you by an elephant, rhino, penguin, walrus, orangutan, or dolphin. Zoo employees will take you behind the scenes, as a group, to view the animal of your choice and create your masterpiece. The Indianapolis Zoo offers a chance for those ages 5-14 to join in a three or five-day immersive camp experience during all school breaks. This Indiana Zoo also presents a handful of featured attractions and rides like their animal-themed carousel, Kombo Coaster, Train, and Skyline that travel over the massive orangutan exhibit.


When planning your next trip to the Indianapolis Zoo, plan a photography session to commemorate your trip. As a local Indianapolis photographer, I specialize in maternity, newborn, and family photography. I’ve been a photographer for over 15 years and have had the chance to meet some amazing families, just like yours! I offer an experience for local and traveling families that you will talk about for years to come. Every family has access to photographer-exclusive products like fine art framed prints as well as fine art and heirloom albums. I’d love the chance to connect with your family and help create some beautiful moments that deserve to be preserved for lifetimes to come.


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