TRIP REPORT: Indianapolis Zoo – March 2019

On Sunday, March 24th, 2019, I traveled the Indianapolis Zoo for the first time. Although I have more experience visiting theme parks than I do zoos, I still feel like my trip to this particular zoo is worth sharing. Zoos are also a decent alternative to theme parks during the off season, because of their various themed areas and attractions. Of course, there’s always amazing animals to look at too. There were two of us making the trip, that being my girlfriend and I. We visited on a bit of a rainy day, but that honestly helped us more than it hurt because the crowd levels were a lot lower.

The main plaza in the zoo was filled with colorful decorations such as flowers and topiaries!

We arrived at the zoo around 11 am. This was more of a spontaneous trip, so we ended up having to pay the regular gate price of $23 a ticket. It’s a bit cheaper the go on weekdays or purchase weekend tickets ahead of time, but $23 isn’t too bad for what you get.

The first thing I noticed when I walked through the gate and into the zoo is that the layout is kind of strange. The zoo is very stretched out width-ways, and the gate is all the way on the eastern side of the zoo. This means that when you walk through the front gate, the entire zoo is to the left, and the right side is basically a dead end. I’ll put a picture of the map below so you can better understand it.

Kind of reminds me of Six Flags New England’s layout, if you know what that looks like.

We kicked off our visit in the Oceans section of the zoo. This part was mostly indoors and functioned as an aquarium of sorts. Before we actually entered the main building, we got to see some sea lions and seals outside.

Apologies for the poor quality of some of these pictures. Moving animals are hard to photograph sometimes.

On the inside of the building there are many types of fish that can be found. It wasn’t an amazing number of fish, but it was still a pretty nice selection. My favorites were probably the all the rays. They also had a shark touch pool, which seemed to be a hit with younger kids, and a lot of penguins. Probably the most unique thing they had in this building was the Macaque monkeys, which actually like to swim in water. Sadly, none of the monkeys were actually swimming that day though.

A blurry majestic sea flap flap.

Next, we walked to the second building in the oceans section. This building is known as the St. Vincent Dolphin Pavilion. It houses, as the name implies, dolphins. The cool part about it is the building contains the only underwater dolphin viewing dome. This essentially means that you walk into an area almost completely made of glass where you can actually watch the dolphins swim completely around you. It was very impressive in my eyes.

After the dolphins, we went to the Orangutan Center. Although the orangutans weren’t the most interesting animals, and it did smell pretty bad inside, the building housing them was the most impressive building in the zoo from an architectural standpoint. Here’s a picture below:

The Orangutan Church

We then walked over to the Deserts area of the zoo to see the reptiles and meerkats. This building was shaped like a giant dome that reminded me of the old Wonders of Life pavilion at Epcot in Walt Disney World. The inside of the dome looked just like a desert and felt like a very natural habitat for all the animals. This building was probably the second nicest looking building after the Orangutan Center.

I guess meerkats have “scouts” that act as a look-out while the other meerkats are looking for food. This meerkat is a scout. I’d say he’s doing a pretty good job.

After the Deserts, we backtracked to the Forests part of the zoo. This area had all sorts of animals, such as tigers, bears, and even red pandas. There were also some birds in this area including eagles and macaw. My favorite animals from this area were either the tigers or bears. The tigers were incredible because of how close they would get to the glass (see the picture below), while the bears were just so majestic to watch from a far.

I’ve been to quite a few zoos with tigers, but never have I ever seen one get as close to the glass as the one’s at the Indy Zoo.

The Indianapolis Zoo doesn’t just have animals to offer. Some of the other attractions they have there are a train, a carousel, a skyline, and even a Zierer family coaster known as Kombo. Sadly, all these attractions were closed due to the rainy weather. It was still nice to know that the zoo had other things to offer though. I’ll definitely go back someday to check all of the extra attractions out.

Sure, it’s just a family coaster, but it would have been a nice credit to have.
The skyline track kind of looks like a Vekoma SLC!

The final area of the zoo that we visited was the Plains. This was by far the biggest part of the zoo, and also felt like the emptiest. This is probably because a majority of the area was outdoors, and the animals were probably inside. That said, the lions, zebras, rhinos, elephants, and cheetahs were all still outside to see. I heard from a friend that volunteers at the zoo that an elephant recently passed away, which was very sad to hear. There were still two elephants that we were able to see though, so that was good. The Plains area was probably my least favorite area in the zoo, but I’m sure it would be more fun to see on a nicer day.

Overall, the Indianapolis Zoo was a very nice place to spend a few hours looking at lots of interesting animals. I would love to go back when it’s nicer out to experience everything that the zoo has to offer. If everything was open, I’m sure we would have easily spent more than a half day here. This is definitely an awesome destination to check out if you’re in the Indianapolis area.

Visit Review: 8/10

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